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Leonard convicted for Freeland Shell store holdup

The man who held up a Freeland convenience store in September will likely go to prison for some time for his crime.

Last week, an Island County jury convicted Curtis Scot Leonard on five of the seven counts levelled against him by the Island County Prosecutor’s Office. Crimes for which he will be sentenced on Dec. 5 are first-degree burglary, assault in the second degree with a deadly weapon, two more counts of assault in the second degree, and one count of malicious mischief in the first degree.

Leonard was arrested by Island County Sheriff’s deputies on Sept. 14 after he walked into the Shell convenience store at the corner of Fish Road and Highway 525 and punched the store manager. Leonard then pulled a .177 Marksman pellet pistol and threatened the store manager when the man pulled a baseball bat from behind the store’s counter to defend himself. Then, before leaving the store, Leonard smashed a $6,000 cash register onto the floor of the store, threw an 18-pack of beer at the store manager, then walked out of the store with another pack of beer.

In an October interview at the Island County Jail — where he remains an inmate after his trial and conviction — Leonard said in October that he went to the store to purchase a pack of cigarettes. He admitted to being upset at the store and told the store manager that the building was an “abomination.”

The station development was hotly contested in 2002, with opponents on South Whidbey claiming that it was built on a wetland.

Leonard acted as his own defense attorney in his trial, which took place on Nov. 16, 17 and 18. Though some charges were dismissed by Judge Alan Hancock before they even went to a jury — Hancock ruled that a deadly weapon enhancement on several of the charges was out of bounds due to the fact that Leonard’s gun was not loaded and therefore not lethal — Leonard was convicted on a majority of the counts against him. The jury ruled Leonard was not guilty of on count of first-degree burglary and one count of malicious mischief in the third degree.

Working as his own attorney, or pro se, Leonard was afforded many privileges not given to other inmates while he was locked up on $250,000 bail at the Island County Jail. He had an unrestricted phone line in his cell, requested and received up to 100 photocopies each day of legal briefings, and had much of an entire cell block to himself.

Island County Sheriff Mike Hawley said Leonard taxed the jail’s ability to provide legal privileges.

“This was a very unique case,” he said.

Leonard does have a criminal history that includes a conviction for bank robbery. He had been living on South Whidbey at the time of his arrest.

Leonard claimed to be associated a South Whidbey citizens activist group that worked earlier this year to block the possible homeporting of a naval radar installation in Everett. A spokesman for that group, Sound Citizens, acknowledged Leonard’s involvement with the recent effort against the radar, but stated that the criminal actions he took on Sept. 14 were entirely on his own.

Leonard will serve out whatever sentence he is given by Judge Hancock next week in a Washington Department of Corrections facility, not the Island County Jail. Sheriff Hawley said that Leonard may also be required to serve time in a federal facility for an older conviction.

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