CRIME WATCH FOLLOWUP: Highland Park Way crash car-theft/kidnapping suspect charged, and has high-profile West Seattle history

Four days after a desperate father crashed into a stolen car to rescue his kidnapped toddler on Highland Park Way, the suspect is charged – and has a history that includes a case reported here earlier this year. The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office charged 35-year-old Samuel M. Robinson with second-degree kidnapping and auto theft. Robinson has an extensive criminal history, including felony charges in three cases this year alone. One was reported here back in August, and its circumstances also were bizarre: Robinson was accused of breaking into a Westwood home, stealing car keys and the residents’ car, then returning to their cul-de-sac the next night – in the stolen car, to prowl other vehicles.

As we reported when Robinson was charged with burglary in that case, the suspect already had been charged with felonies in two other cases earlier in the summer – on July 8th, auto theft for stealing a pickup truck in southeast West Seattle, and on July 28th, second-degree burglary for a break-in at a Kent business a few days earlier. Despite all that, after the Westwood burglary/auto theft, King County Superior Court Judge Melinda Young set bail at half of the $50,000 that prosecutors had requested.

But the case gets more complicated from there. Robinson was found incompetent to stand trial, and was supposed to be admitted to Western State Hospital for 45 days of attempted competency restoration. Apparently there was no room, so in October, Robinson’s lawyer sought a dismissal for a due-process violation. Judge Young denied that motion but agreed to release Robinson on personal recognizance, with conditions including taking prescribed medication, so Robinson got out October 19th. After Robinson failed to show for a hearing November 8th, a warrant was issued. Robinson’s bail is now set at $315,000. The charging documents say the defendant, who has a Westwood address, claims to steal cars because of “projection” in which the cars communicate that they’re intended for Robinson’s use. In this case, Robinson acknowledged becoming quickly aware of the 15-month-old boy in the car but continuing to drive anyway, thinking about possibly taking the child to a relative’s house.

27 Replies to "CRIME WATCH FOLLOWUP: Highland Park Way crash car-theft/kidnapping suspect charged, and has high-profile West Seattle history"

  • Huh? November 22, 2021 (8:30 pm)

    Lock this guy up, what the?

  • Auntie November 22, 2021 (8:33 pm)

    What was Judge Young thinking setting a low bail the first time and releasing him on personal recognizance the second time? And why wasn’t this guy held at another facility until there was room at Western State for “attempted competency restoration?” If he’s not competent to stand trial, he shouldn’t be considered competent to be out and about, endangering others.

  • Michelle November 22, 2021 (9:40 pm)

    I’m sorry, the Judge is more incompetent than the Suspect and seems a likely why soo many Mentally ill people are slipping through the cracks, Ignore and Enable!

  • dnf November 22, 2021 (9:52 pm)

    Judge Melinda Young has repeatedly shown a blatant disregard for public safety, with regards to this menace.

    Can you imagine what the father who rescued his kidnapped child must be going through right now, knowing Judge Young released a known, imminent danger to the public, someone she herself considered (at least temporarily) so troubled as to warrant immediate institutionalization, not to mention his recent rash of alleged of violent crimes in the past few months?

    I have a hard time thinking Judge Young would feel so understanding had her own child been taken from her under similar circumstances.

    We pay judges to provide justice. Judge Young does no such thing, and we, the taxpayers, pay her for the privilege.

    Her term is due on 2025, if i’m not mistaken. I sure as hell won’t be giving her my vote, and would advise everyone else registered to do the same. 

    • trickycoolj November 23, 2021 (12:29 am)

      That would require actual opponents. Nearly every judge on my ballots seem to be running unopposed. 

  • Peter November 22, 2021 (9:53 pm)

    How many chances can one person get? Please give this guy a lengthy prison sentence to restore public safety to this area.

    • zark00 November 23, 2021 (10:26 am)

      A lengthy prison sentence now cures mental health issues? Amazing, when did that start working?  

      • Roddy3 November 24, 2021 (7:30 pm)

        No, but it will keep the bastard off the streets. And since the mental health facilities appear to be full up, you gotta do what you gotta do. Tired of the excuses.

  • 1994 November 22, 2021 (10:50 pm)

    That judge Melinda Young as previously reported on WSB:WESTWOOD VILLAGE BURGLARY SUSPECTS: Almost 3 weeks ago, we reported on the filing of charges against Rafael Meyers and Jerry Plute Jr., both 34, arrested after a break-in that left three business spaces damaged at Westwood Village last month. Both, you’ll recall, were released the next day. Records show neither appeared for their arraignment on March 10th, but King County Superior Court Judge Melinda Young declined to issue bench warrants, citing a state Supreme Court order in response to the pandemic giving judges that discretion…..

  • flimflam November 23, 2021 (5:57 am)

    Not sure i understand the rationale behind releasing a repeat criminal that thinks cars are communicating with him – i read that no beds were available at Western but he’s still a criminal, who possibly benefits from him being released? Why would he be expected to be capable of maintaining a med schedule? why not give him the meds AND keep him in jail? Now we’re talking about kidknapping, which was unintentional perhaps but that’s not really an excuse when you begin the ordeal by stealing a car.

  • Thomas A Wood November 23, 2021 (7:23 am)

    Washington ranks 47 th in the nation for mental health.Western State has been an embarrassment for years.For some reason the legislature doesn’t seem to think its important. We can’t keep releasing these people out to prey on others.They need to be locked up some may never be allowed to be released.

    • Jort November 23, 2021 (9:34 am)

      Not everyone who is “released” is out to “prey on others.” But I guess that kind of assumption is what one should expect when it’s followed by a blanket statement about locking people up and literally never letting them out ever again. I am never surprised by the insatiable bloodlust people have for illogical, cruel retribution.

      • Peter S. November 23, 2021 (9:57 am)

        Jort:  You’d probably post something very different if he’d taken out a bicyclist while trying to escape.  Especially given he was using a car.

        • M November 23, 2021 (10:54 am)

          This raises another question—will the father of the child be charged as well?

        • Jort November 23, 2021 (2:37 pm)

          I am not defending the crime alleged in these charges. I am saying that there is a certain strain of thought that goes through some people’s heads about “locking them up and throwing away the key,” and not only is it extremely gross and thoughtless, it’s counter-productive. It is considerably more likely than not that, even if this person is convicted and goes through treatment and is released, they will still once again be extended the offer to engage in the privilege of being licensed to own and drive a vehicle, because our system treats driving like it’s enshrined in the Bill of Rights (it’s not). And nobody will bat an eye at this. Just look at the case in Wisconsin. Somebody intentionally ran over someone and was out on $1,000 bail when days later they intentionally ran over more people. Why? Because the justice system and society in general don’t equate driving with the danger it actually poses. If this West Seattle suspect had actually killed somebody while driving, I would be arguing for strict penalties that reduce the risk their dangerous choice to drive would have on society. And I would continue to advocate for a city and country that does not design itself to allow these kinds of crimes to take place.

      • zark00 November 23, 2021 (10:36 am)

        It’s a knee-jerk reaction from people who refuse to spend more than 2 seconds thinking about a problem. The only thing they understand is “prison” because they’ve seen it in the movies and they don’t understand how the criminal justice system functions; even at the most basic level.  They simply have no real understanding of anything past: “Cops arrest, everyone goes to prison forever”. It’s embarrassing really. The article is extremely clear, the problem is a lack of mental health resources.  20 years ago this person would have had a case worker. That case worker would have don’t routine visits to make sure they were on their meds, they would have regular appointments with a social worker, if they missed them or were not taking their meds escalated action could be taken. I used to go on case calls, we don’t do that anymore in any meaningful way.  The same people who say “lock them up forever” are also the people who vote against any and all tax increases for these resources.  So really they are not only embarrassingly ignorant about the issue, they are actively blocking attempts to address it.  

        • dnf November 23, 2021 (11:27 am)

          Our lack of mental health resources in this state is a disgrace.

          It’s illegal (, and unethical. 

          That said, considering the circumstances – lack of space at the hospital, and an incompetent individual likely to commit acts of violence immediately upon release – the judge seemingly had two choices.

          Release him as is in his current state (mentally incompetent), or keep him in jail until a bed opens up. Both terrible options, forced upon the judge by the state’s underfunded, understaffed health and human services. But those were the choices, nonetheless. Option 1 – incarceration in jail – poorly serves the incarcerated, as the jail isn’t setup to provide mental health services. But it at poses no risk to the public. Option 2 – release – does not serve the defendant’s own mental health or well being, and puts the public at risk. The results and crime-spree speak s for itself.

          • flimflam November 23, 2021 (12:59 pm)

            It may sound harsh but the greater good and public safety of the many is more important to me, personally, if we have to choose.

        • D-burger November 23, 2021 (10:27 pm)

          Zark00 – No, those people aren’t. I believe there are people who need to be kept locked up in a facility in perpetuity, but I also believe in funding mental health care and monitoring with tax monies, far more so than our system currently does. Not everyone should be locked up permanently, but some should. It’s possible not to be an extremist, believe it or not. Seattle voters need to understand this.

        • Roddy3 November 24, 2021 (7:37 pm)

           If a mentally ill person commits a serious crime, and there is no room in our ONE facility, then that person should go to jail. Bottom line…they shouldn’t be on the streets.

      • Thomas A Wood November 23, 2021 (11:50 am)

        Jort  you need to take a deep breath I never said everyone needs to be locked up forever. I did state that mental health in this state is a disaster. You can read everyday about somebody being attacked by someone with mental issues.

  • KT November 23, 2021 (2:18 pm)

    Does anyone actually go out and execute arrest warrants or just wait until the person commits yet a new crime and add the warrant on top of the new charge?  Seems like the latter.

    • WSB November 23, 2021 (2:56 pm)

      Yes, they do. We’ve reported numerous times on warrant-serving situations.j

  • KGG November 24, 2021 (9:10 am)

    The reason we don’t have mental services anymore is due to the ALCU making it illegal to commit people without their  consent in the late 80’s early 90’s. A good majority of mentally ill don’t think they have an issue, especially schizophrenics. Our challenge is and continues to be getting people the help they need and still consider their civil liberties. A good deal of the hospitals shut down due to lack of long term patients, these 30 day assessments only work if someone has committed a crime, not for someone who will commit a crime. This leaves jails as the only options for these individuals who are sick and committed a sick crime, broken system county wide.

    • flimflam November 24, 2021 (3:42 pm)

      While it is extremely difficult to commit someone involuntary, it’s supposed to be applicable to those that are a danger to themselves or others – it’s pretty easy to spot obvious cases in those terms yet it still doesn’t seem to happen often.

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