High cost of a few sips of smoothie?

jpawloski@theolympian.comNovember 27, 2012 

A suspect who couldn’t stop himself from drinking his victim’s smoothie as they sat in the victim’s vehicle during a 2011 armed robbery was recently identified by Lacey police due to DNA left on the straw.

The DNA was analyzed at the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab and matched the suspect’s DNA profile, which had already been entered into a national DNA database of felons.

Based on the evidence, Thurston County prosecutors charged Roger Taylor, 30, with first-degree robbery. Taylor was served with the arrest warrant in the Clark County Jail, where he is in custody due to state Department of Corrections violations, court papers state.

Taylor is accused of stealing $4,000 from a local plumber after he allegedly approached the victim in a Tacoma parking lot in August 2011. Taylor allegedly forced the plumber at gunpoint to drive to his Lacey credit union and withdraw the money from his account. The victim was carjacked after purchasing a beverage at the Emerald City Smoothie store on Sixth Avenue in Tacoma, court papers state.

According to the papers:

The plumber reported the incident to Lacey police on Aug. 19, 2011. He said that while walking back to his vehicle after buying the smoothie, he was approached by a stranger. As the plumber tried to enter his vehicle, the suspect pointed a gun at him and got in the vehicle with him.

The plumber said the man demanded about $4,000. The plumber said he would have to get the money from his credit union in Lacey. The plumber said he drove the vehicle as the suspect sat in the passenger seat, with the handgun pointed at him. He said that he went through the drive-thru window at the Twin Star Credit Union in Lacey and withdrew the money. He said that “the defendant still had the firearm out, but down at his side so that it would not be visible to someone else.”

The plumber said he then drove the suspect to a nearby Park & Ride. He said the suspect took his keys and cellphone and then “placed those objects on the ground” some distance away as he waited for a cab to pick him up. After the suspect left in a cab, the plumber said he drove to the Lacey Police Department to report the crime.

Lacey police recovered surveillance video from Twin Star Credit Union showing the plumber withdrawing his money from his account. In the video, the plumber’s passenger was seen using a straw to drink from the plumber’s smoothie. The straw was sent to the crime lab, and in May the DNA profile was matched with Taylor’s profile, which was already in the Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, database.

The plumber also later identified a photo of Taylor from a photo montage of possible suspects. Surveillance video from the Emerald City Smoothie parking lot in Tacoma also was consistent with the plumber’s account of being robbed at gunpoint. Lacey police also located the taxi driver who picked up the suspect at the Park & Ride, and his story was consistent with the plumber’s account of what happened.

A Lacey detective met with Taylor at the Clark County Jail in October, and he denied committing the robbery. He invoked his right to remain silent during questioning but was charged by Thurston County prosecutors on Nov. 20 with committing the armed robbery.

Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5445 jpawloski@theolympian.com

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