COEUR d’ALENE — After 24-year-old Lance Harden robbed the 15th Street Zip Trip last year wearing a mask, holding a loaded revolver with the hammer pulled back and telling the clerk he wasn’t afraid to use it, he dumped the loaded firearm on the grounds of a daycare.
The aggravating circumstances were noted by the judge and prosecutor in First District Court Thursday where Harden received a 20-year sentence.
“Any time a gun is used in a robbery it is a bad robbery,” District Judge Lansing Haynes said. “It’s exacerbated when a person wears a mask.”
The disguise makes it more frightening.
When the suspect utters in a low voice that he isn’t afraid to use the gun, it adds another layer of menace, Haynes said.
“No one should have to go through that,” he said.
Haynes sentenced Harden to a fixed four years in prison and 16 years indeterminate.
Deputy prosecutor Rebecca Perez said the hammer was still pulled back on the loaded firearm when it was found the next day, with a bullet in the chamber, in the yard where children play.
“The gun could have been found,” Perez said. “It was ready to fire.”
Harden, who came to Coeur d’Alene to work at a construction job, had been convicted in a felony burglary in Florida as an 18-year-old.
He was arrested before 5 a.m. July 26, four blocks from the gas station and convenience store he had robbed a half-hour earlier.
Harden fled with $80, leaving a $1 bill on the floor in front of the counter and two $5 bills in the parking lot, according to police. When officers caught up to him, he was walking, shirtless, covered in dirt, wearing basketball shorts. He told police he had been jogging.
Harden told the court Thursday that he was sorry for the fear he had inflicted on the clerk of the Zip Trip, and he apologized to the community for his actions.
Prosecutors and Kootenai County Public Defender Anne Taylor said the sentence, part of a deal in exchange for Harden’s guilty pleas to robbery and being a felon with a firearm, was a fair compromise.
Harden will serve four years and be given credit for the seven months he has already spent in jail since his arrest. He could be released from prison after serving the fixed portion of the sentence and be placed on parole, or serve additional time behind bars.