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Five charged in Kirkland home invasion; medical marijuana-grower to sue King County

Finn Hill resident Steve Sarich gives a speech on the steps of the capital on protecting medical marijuana growers and patients.  - Contributed photo
Finn Hill resident Steve Sarich gives a speech on the steps of the capital on protecting medical marijuana growers and patients.
— image credit: Contributed photo

Five Bellevue men have been charged in connection with the March 15 home invasion robbery attempt at medical-marijuana activist Steve Sarich's Finn Hill home.

But that is not the only legal fallout from the incident, as Sarich, 59, plans to sue the King County Sheriff's Office for what he calls vaguely worded laws that led to the crime scene turning into a "marijuana raid."

Sarich, who is executive director of an advocacy group for medical marijuana patients called CannaCare, uses medical marijuana he grows in his home to treat his degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis.

Four of the men, Jonathon Buell, Tyson Corcoran, Andrew J.J. Carrigan, and Hristo Tzenkov, are between ages 18 and 19 and the fifth, Dakota Laughren, 17, will be charged as an adult.

All of the suspects were charged with first degree robbery and will be arraigned March 30 at the Regional Justice Center in Kent. Tzenkov also faces an additional charge of first degree burglary.

Sarich, who was armed with a .22-caliber pistol, shot Tzenkov three times, including one bullet in the heart that entered through his back. Tzenkov remains at Harborview Medical Center in critical condition.

Tzenkov, who was armed with a shot gun, also injured Sarich, who was released from Evergreen Hospital hours after the incident.

According to court documents, Carrigan is being held on $250,000 bail while Laughren, a convicted felon, and Buell are each being held on $300,000 bail.

Tzenkov, who claims that he lives with Buell in Bellevue, will also be held on $300,000 bail and will be booked once he is released from the hospital. Corcoran posted a $10,000 bail and was released Wednesday afternoon. Prosecutors had asked that he be held on $250,000 bail.

Corcoran and Carrigan were employed by Sarich in the past. Corcoran, along with Buell, both obtained their medical marijuana cards from another physician after attending a clinic on Sarich's property. Carrigan and Laughren also robbed Sarich recently.

Sarich's home contained 385 marijuana plants, along with foods that had been laced with the drug, according to the King County Sherrif's office. Sarich disputes the number of plants according to the definition of the law, which is one of the reasons for his lawsuit.

According to charging documents in the case, the Washington State Department of Health defines the amount allowed as a 60-day supply, with no more than 24 ounces of usable marijuana. It also states that there can be no more than 15 plants at any state of growth.

After officers searched Sarich's home, the sheriff's office left him with the legal amount of plants and he has not been charged with having more than the legal limit. He declined to talk with the Reporter about the lawsuit before consulting his lawyer on Monday.

Sarich told the Seattle Times that his home has been broken into eight times but that he has been hesitant to report the incidents for fear of having his plants taken, as they were on Monday.

Sarich told the Reporter just after then incident: "We do nothing whatsoever illegal here, but (the police) will probably come rob my house, cut down my (marijuana) plants and make me a victim twice in one day."

Sarich's concern for the safety of medical-marijuana patients and doctors stems, in part, from a recent incident where a CannaCare patient, Mike Howard, 38, was beaten to death during an alleged robbery attempt in Orting, Wash. on March 12. Sarich, who worked to publicize the alleged murder over the weekend, said Howard died after he was clubbed in the head with a crowbar by robbers who were after his pot crop. Police later raided Howard's home and cut down his marijuana plants, Sarich said.

Prior to the incident on Monday, Sarich wrote to state legislators, criticizing state laws and the conduct of the Pierce County Sheriff's Department.

"What happened to Mike Howard could happen to me, or any other patient in Washington as long as we can't trust the police to do their jobs."

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