EVERETT — Defense attorney Donald Wackerman warned jurors to be leery of eyewitnesses, whose memories can be clouded by stress, how they are questioned by police and even by their race.
Wackerman’s client, a 17-year-old boy, was identified by three people as one of the suspects who robbed an Everett pharmacy last year. Two young people jumped over the pharmacy counter March 1, 2016, at Walgreens on Madison Street and demanded drugs. One of the suspects was armed with a gun.
Mohamed Dukuly was arrested after a customer said she saw him running out of the store that night. She didn’t know there was a robbery until reading a news account days later. The pharmacist and a technician picked Dukuly out of a photo line-up.
Prosecutors charged Dukuly with first-degree robbery in adult court. He was 16 at the time of the incident. Wackerman fought to have the case heard in juvenile court, arguing that it was unconstitutional for the prosecutor to solely decide where the case should be tried. A judge denied the motion.
Testimony in the case started Tuesday.
Dukuly has denied taking part in the heist. His fingerprints weren’t found at the scene and his phone records indicate that someone was surfing the web in the minutes leading up to the robbery. Video doesn’t show the robbers on their phones, Wackerman said. He also told jurors in opening statements that they will hear from an eyewitness expert who will explain why the jury should be skeptical about how Dukuly was identified.
“Studies show that eyewitness testimony is not as reliable as people think it is,” Wackerman said.
Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Matt Hunter pointed out that one of the witnesses, a customer at the time, knew the defendant from the high school, where she worked. She was certain that Dukuly was the young man who ran by her on the way out of the store. She said he was carrying a backpack.
The first robber over the counter was wearing a backpack, the pharmacist told jurors Tuesday. He later explained that he was confrontational with the young man until he saw the suspect’s partner, who pointed a gun at him.
“I thought I was going to die at that point,” the pharmacist said.
The suspects demanded cough syrup containing codeine, an opiate. They also demanded Oxycontin, another powerful opiate used to treat pain. The pharmacist explained to jurors that Oxycontin is kept in a time-lock safe. He couldn’t immediately open the safe. Yet, they demanded he give them the drug. He pleaded with them not to kill him.
“I thought I was going to get shot,” he said.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; email@example.com.