SEATTLE - A man and one of two teens charged in the armed robbery of a medical marijuana dispensary in West Seattle pleaded not guilty Monday afternoon, and the mother of one of the defendants said her son was scared and trying to help his family out of a financial crisis.
Donshae D. Sims, 24, faces a sentence range of 15 to 17 years in prison, and Malik D. Heckard, 16, who is charged as an adult, faces a range of 14 to 16 years if convicted. Both pleaded not guilty Monday.
The third defendant, who is 15, was charged in juvenile court and is awaiting a hearing to see if he too will be charged as an adult. He could be sentenced to 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 years at a juvenile facility if convicted as a juvenile, or 14-16 years if tried and convicted as an adult.
All three have been charged with first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary and unlawful possession of a firearm.
Malik's mother said their family ran into financial trouble she thinks her son participated in the robbery because was trying to help the family.
"I've been employed at a job for six years and I got fired... a few days before (the robbery) happened," Kanesha Heckard said.
"We were also facing an eviction because I was fired and we didn't have any way to pay my rent, and (Malik) was scared. He saw the stress in me, and... I think he just wanted some money to help me."
Malik's father Malcom Reyes said his son doesn't have a prior criminal record.
"He's scared, but he's just dealing with it," Reyes said. "He was under a whole lot of stress and he made a mistake."
Seattle police say that the robbery happened March 19 at a medical marijuana shop on the 5400 block of California Avenue SW. The three robbers walked into the shop, but were asked to leave by the shop's employees when they determined that the three weren't there to buy anything.
In response, police say, the men pulled out handguns, and then tied up the three employees and two customers in the store. They robbed the five victims of their wallets, stole some marijuana and ran out of the store, according to police.
The store employees managed to free themselves and caught two of the robbers a few blocks from the store.
Officers who arrived at the scene arrested the two men and the third suspect was caught a short time later.
Police recovered the stolen wallets and all of the stolen marijuana, along with two handguns.
The 15-year-old who was charged is in juvenile custody, and Sims and Heckard are being held in the King County Jaill
"(Malik) is a football player and well-liked in school," Kanesha Heckard said. "You don't run around doing negative things, that's not him. He just made a mistake because of the pressure he was under.
"If I could, I'd do the time for him."