EVERETT — It wasn’t your everyday convenience store robbery.
There was no mask or hooded sweatshirt or suspect running off.
She was a middle-aged woman dressed in a business suit. She drove a silver Mercedes convertible and had no felonies on her record.
Then she was arrested in October after pulling off holdups of two Bothell convenience stores 20 minutes apart.
Her image from surveillance cameras became clickbait.
Eight months later in a nearly empty Snohomish County Superior Courtroom on Tuesday, Sunita Kelleppan was gracious and remorseful, saying she felt shame but was grateful to her attorneys for their help during the biggest ordeal of her life. She even thanked the deputy prosecutor “for fair consideration and compassion.”
Judge Ellen Fair sentenced Kelleppan to 2½ years in prison. She followed an agreed recommendation from the defense and prosecuting attorney.
Kelleppan, 46, said she was taking medication for anxiety and depression at the time of the robberies, after a separation from her spouse. A store clerk said she also smelled of alcohol.
The defendant said she knows she is the woman in the surveillance videos, but she can’t clearly remember what happened.
As part of the negotiation, she pleaded guilty June 13 to one count of first-degree robbery. She also admitted using a pellet gun that resembled a semiautomatic pistol, court papers show.
During one of the heists, she pressed the weapon to the store manager’s forehead. The manager told police the robber was a frequent customer. She took $86 in cash along with packs of Marlboro Red cigarettes, he said. The second robbery netted a larger amount of money.
While the video cameras didn’t get a good image of the license plate, there was enough for a Bothell police detective to identify the year, make, model and color of the robber’s ride, deputy prosecutor Andrew Alsdorf said in court papers.
The detective used the information to search a vehicle database. It showed there was only one car in Bothell that matched the description, and its registered owner lived near the robbery locations, Alsdorf wrote.
The woman’s driver’s license photo showed she was a close match for the robber. Both clerks picked her out when shown a photo montage.
The defendant kept her job until a week before her sentencing. She also has made arrangements to send her victims a letter of apology through the prosecutor’s office.
Eric Stevick: firstname.lastname@example.org; 425-339-3446.