PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. — A man has been found guilty in the 2019 armed robbery of a popular Puyallup market that ended in the death of its 79-year-old shop owner and the fatal shooting of the convicted man’s friend days later.
Robbrie Thompson, 19, was convicted Thursday by a jury in Pierce County Superior Court. Judge James Orlando read through the jurors’ verdicts on the eight charges brought against Thompson, and on each count, jurors found him guilty.
His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 19. Orlando directed Thompson to be held on a no-bail hold. Thompson could face life in prison without parole. In this case, prosecutors said sentencing length might be complicated by the fact that Thompson was 16 when he committed his crimes.
Thompson was found guilty of first-degree murder and two counts of first-degree aggravated murder in the deaths of shop owner Soon Ja Nam and 16-year-old Franklin Thuo, Thompson’s friend prosecutors said he killed over a fear that he would talk to authorities about Nam’s death.
Jurors also found Thompson guilty of first-degree robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, two counts of second-degree assault and unlawful possession of a firearm.
Over the course of the three-week trial, prosecutors had a long list of witnesses to draw from, including law enforcement, Washington State Patrol forensic scientists, records custodians from Snapchat, Google and Lyft and others.
During opening statements Sept. 8, prosecutors described to jurors in detail Thompson’s whereabouts leading up to the deadly robbery and in the days after it.
Wasankari pointed to a text from Thompson to his girlfriend saying he was on his way to Puyallup, surveillance video showing Thuo’s car near the market, witnesses who identified Thompson and Thuo and a Snapchat video showing Thompson holding two guns and the teens “preparing for the robbery that they executed just six minutes later.”
Defense attorney Paula T. Olson told jurors that Thuo killed shop owner Nam rather than Thompson in a brief opening statement. She also challenged the idea that cell phone triangulation is precise enough to show somebody’s exact location and pointed out there are no witnesses to Thuo’s death
On the day of the robbery, April 27, Thuo picked up Thompson, who allegedly got in the Nissan Sentra carrying two pistols and wearing blue rubber gloves.
Thuo allegedly waited in the Nissan while Thompson allegedly went inside and demanded money from Nam, who was working the front counter. Nam’s husband heard her scream for help just before Nam walked into the couple’s kitchen with the robber behind her, a gun pointed in her direction.
“That man then shot Mrs. Nam in the back while her husband watched,” Wasankari said Sept. 8. “She said, ‘Open the cash register,’ and that’s the last thing she said.”
In the days after the robbery, prosecutors said Thompson became worried he and Thuo would be caught after someone spotted the Nissan Sentra at the library and called 911. That night, prosecutors said, Thompson did an internet search for “where is the best place to shoot someone” before turning off his cell phone for about 90 minutes.
The next morning, Puyallup Tribal Police found Thuo’s body near Chinook Marina. He was missing his white Adidas Yeezy sneakers. Wasankari said Thompson modeled white Adidas Yeezys for sale on Snapchat in the days after Thuo’s death.
Thompson was arrested on May 1 while walking to school.
This story was originally published by The News Tribune.
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