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Wednesday, April 23, 1997 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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South Sound Briefly

Robber Gets 3-Strikes Sentence

KENT - A robber who held up a series of stores has been sentenced to life in prison under the state's "three-strikes" law.

In a nonjury trial yesterday, King County Superior Court Judge Michael J. Fox convicted Joseph Scott Wharton, 34, of Kent, on five counts of robbery.

The charges stemmed from holdups at 10 Kent-area stores last winter.

Fox called the case "tragic," noting that no one was hurt in the crimes, but that the law passed by voters in 1993 gave him no discretion but to sentence Wharton to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

"Certainly, there were instances where victims were scared out of their wits and felt threatened, and these are very serious crimes," Fox said. "But Mr. Wharton never struck anybody, he never shot anybody or stabbed anybody."

In the late 1980s, Wharton was convicted and sentenced to six years in prison for four robberies in the Renton and Federal Way

areas.

Copyright (c) 1997 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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