FOLLOWUP: ‘The defendant’s criminal history is horrendous,’ prosecutors say as they charge Benjamin Laigo III in crime spree including West Seattle robbery

At right is a state photo of 48-year-old Benjamin Laigo III, taken three days before his release from Coyote Ridge Corrections Center in southeastern Washington two and a half weeks ago. Today, county prosecutors charged him with first-degree robbery and attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle. They say he held up a West Seattle woman at 37th and Alaska (as reported here on Sunday, after her husband e-mailed us about the crime) and then took off in a stolen car, with police pursuing before long, until he crashed the car on Airport Way.

As reported here on Tuesday, Laigo has a lengthy record. He went to prison in 2006, sentenced to 14 years in connection with multiple robberies, including a holdup on Valentine’s Day 2006 at the Wells Fargo Bank in The Admiral District. Documents from the sentencing that year say he made off with more than $11,000. The 2006 robberies followed his release from prison – how closely, we don’t know – after 10 years in prison for five robbery convictions in 1996. Prosecutors say that because of those cases, this one will be his “third strike” if convicted, and that’s why they asked the judge to set bail at half a million dollars. A deputy prosecutor wrote in today’s documents, “The defendant’s criminal history is horrendous and shows a 20-year pattern of violent offenses following long periods of incarceration.” The charging papers say the woman Laigo is accused of robbing in West Seattle was knocked to the ground and was bleeding from her head and hands when people rushed to help her after he stole her purse and took off. Witnesses told police they saw the robber holding a black handgun.

The white Fiat witnesses say they saw the robber jump into was spotted on the eastbound bridge by an SPD officer who followed it onto northbound I-5, waiting for backup before activating lights and sirens. The car checked as having been stolen in an armed carjacking on lower Queen Anne Hill the night before. Officers started trying to stop it when the car exited at James Street downtown; they say it was being driven erratically for a few blocks before getting back onto I-5, southbound this time, going up to 75 mph in light rain, traveling about three miles until getting off the freeway at Airport Way, and eventually going the wrong way onto a ramp to get back onto I-5, stopping after crashing into another car whose driver was hurt, as was Laigo, who police say they found alone in the Fiat. He had his Department of Corrections ID card on him in the car. Retracing the path of the pursuit, police found the West Seattle robbery victim’s purse near 5th and Lander.

Laigo is not charged yet in connection with the carjacking. Its victim told police that the man who robbed her pointed a black handgun at her and said, “I need your car, look normal, no one will help me.” He took her keys and asked her how to use the key remote, but warned her not to look at him. Laigo is due back in court for arraignment – to answer the charges – the day before Thanksgiving.

P.S. We wondered while writing the previous story about the “time off for good behavior” law that apparently is what enabled Laigo to serve roughly two-thirds of his previous terms for multiple robberies. We found details of the policy here.

8 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: 'The defendant's criminal history is horrendous,' prosecutors say as they charge Benjamin Laigo III in crime spree including West Seattle robbery"

  • Dan Mayeda November 13, 2015 (8:04 am)

    Thanks for the updates, please keep them coming.

    • WSB November 13, 2015 (8:15 am)

      This is one of the cases we will be tracking through the system, for sure.

  • Fiz November 13, 2015 (8:33 am)

    “Good behavior” doesn’t extend beyond prison walls for this thug. He should not be free again.

  • wscommuter November 13, 2015 (11:11 am)

    He won’t be. He’ll get his 3rd strike and face mandatory life.

    FYI “good behavior” is a statutory creation – by incentivizing prisoners to behave while in prison. Corrections officers rely on this concept to help keep them safe while working within the prison, so it isn’t just a “feel good” thing to benefit prisoners. “Serious, violent” offenses (1st degree Murder, 1st degree Rape, and just a few other most serious violent crimes) allow prisoners to earn up to 1/6 of their sentence off for good behavior. All other felony convictions, including robbery, allow for up to 1/3 off.

  • RarelyEver November 13, 2015 (11:12 am)

    “…no one will help me.”

    What would you do, having been released from prison with a felony conviction, without a support network (family, friends), and without prospects of a job because employers won’t hire someone with a record?

    The system is broken and is failing everyone who has ever made a mistake. Christian nation FTW.

  • 2 Much Whine November 13, 2015 (11:30 am)

    @RarelyEver you ask “what would you do if. . . . .” how about not become a felon in the first place? That’s a great start. How about not rob people at gunpoint and steal their car? Here’s a thought, find an old piece of cardboard and write “anything helps, God Bless” on it and stand down by Costco. You’d at least get an occasional roast chicken or a free pizza. We all make choices in life and some people continue to make bad ones. The system may be broken but don’t take away the requirement for personal accountability. It is not fair to say that everything that happens to anyone is someone else’s fault. I know lots of people that find it pretty easy to avoid becoming a felon in the first place by not doing things that can get you charged with a felony – it’s a crazy thought but it just might work.

  • Bradley November 13, 2015 (3:18 pm)

    @RarelyEver: you weren’t robbed at gun point and knocked to the ground like one of his female victims was. You are also assuming he didn’t victimize his family and friends in the past. The system IS broken because criminals like him should never be allowed to walk our streets again after half of the felonies he has committed. Felons should never have priority over the law-abiding.

  • Delmar November 14, 2015 (3:47 pm)

    “What would you do…” Hmmmm…first I would accept the FACT that my choices have life long consequences [good or bad]. When I leave prison I will probably have limited opportunity as to how I make a living. Although I have paid my debt to society there are those who will always believe me less than others, always thug, a criminal.
    I will have to work harder than others to EARN genuine trust of a potential employer. I will probably have to accept a job that will neither make me rich…nor poor; But washing dishes or mopping floors will keep from going back to prison.
    I would accept that I am not entitled to TAKE by force, threat or deceit that which does not belong to me. I would accept that life is hard, and even harder for others but I will live my life in a way that does not bring detriment to me or others.


    …..Just my thoughts

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