Collaboration in Civic Spheres

King County Superior Court: State Of Washington v. Bobby Wayne Wells

by Matt Rosenberg May 23rd, 2010

Last Friday May 21, Bobby Wayne Wells, 35, of Burien was reminded – conclusively – that it does not pay to ingest a pint of bourbon, then enter a pet store, stuff a squawking cockatiel down your pants in full view of an employee, deny said action when confronted, and flee in a distinctively marked vehicle, leading police on a chase at speeds reaching about 80 miles per hour while weaving across several lanes and then driving on the wrong side of the road. Particularly if you already have 21 prior convictions dating back as far as 21 years, including five for attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle. At the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent, Wells was sentenced last week by Judge Bruce E. Heller of King County Superior Court to 28 months in prison for attempting to elude police following the cockatiel theft.

KEY LINK: Charging papers, The State of Washington v. Bobby Wayne Wells.

THE CURTAIN RISES, ON A DISMAYED BIRD: On June 25th 2009 a Kent, Wash. patrol officer (P. Stewart) responded to a theft complaint at Midway Tropical Fish, 24101 Pacific Highway South. The witness, a store employee, told the officer he had seen a heavyset male enter the store. The witness “watched as the man went over to a bird cage and fiddled with the locked door..opened the cage’s door and grabbed the bird”…The witness “then saw the man stuff the bird down the front of his pants by pulling the waistband forward allowing the live bird to be inserted….”

BIRD? WHAT BIRD? According to the charging papers: “The suspect stole a young Cockatiel bird, valued at approximately $50.” The witness “confronted the man, saying, ‘You can’t do that!’ Then man looked up and said, ‘Do what?’” The witness “said, ‘Stick the bird down your pants.’ The man said, ‘What bird?’ During this conversation,” the witness “said he could very clearly hear the bird squawking inside the man’s pants.”

THE CHASE: According to the witness report in the charging papers, Wells fled the store with the bird, hopped in a green van with a tan strip at the bottom and fled southbound on Pacific Highway South. After taking the complaint, the officer followed, located a vehicle matching the description and pursued it, noting the license plate number. The driver took a variety of evasive maneuvers, including “swerving across different lanes to get around cars” and “driving north in the southbound lanes of Pacific Highway South.” The driver’s speed reached about 80 miles per hour, according to the officer, who abandoned the pursuit due to concerns for the safety of other motorists.

THE HUNT, & CONFESSION: But using vehicle registration information connected with the license plate number, plus photo identification of the suspect by the witness, and information from the suspect’s mother, police later tracked Wells down at his address in Burien. “In a non-custodial interview in the driveway of his residence, Wells admitted to stealing the bird and fleeing from the officer. He acknowledged seeing the officer’s emergency lights. Wells further admitted to drinking ‘a pint of bourbon’ prior to stealing the bird and fleeing from the police…Wells agreed to return the bird, which he was still in possession of. The stolen bird was returned to the…business by his mother…”

CONVICTION & SENTENCING: Wells was charged with third-degree theft, and attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle. He was convicted on those charges on April 19, 2010, and sentenced May 21, 2010 to immediately begin serving a 28 month term on the eluding charge. A three-month sentence on the theft charge is to be served concurrently. He is barred from further contact with Midway Tropical Fish.

PRIOR CONVICTIONS: According to the sentencing papers (p. 7), Wells has 21 prior convictions dating back as far as 1989. Seventeen are adult cases, four are juvenile. Five are for attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle; the others include theft, possession of stolen property, vehicle theft, malicious mischief, harassment, forgery, unlawful possession of a firearm, and a controlled substances conviction which authorities report was for manufacture/delivery of methamphetamine.


King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office

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