Accused Moses Lake bank robber claims insanity

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EPHRATA — The trial for a man claiming he was insane when he allegedly robbed the Moses Lake Washington Mutual Bank started Wednesday.

Allen J. Pavese, 56, is charged in Grant County Superior Court with robbery in the first degree, assault in the second degree and theft in the first degree for the November 2008 incident.

Deputy Prosecutor Doug Mitchell argued multiple witnesses in the bank, including tellers, customers and other bank employees, reportedly saw Pavese commit the act.

“Ironically enough, it’s almost exactly two years ago today, there were three tellers doing their job at the windows inside Washington Mutual Bank,” he said. “What (the witnesses) saw and what they heard, was the man come up, approach the teller window, and stumble or crash, reach over ... Several of them saw a man holding a knife, some of them heard that man demanding money.”

Witnesses reportedly saw Pavese receive the money and a witness followed the man out of the bank, while phoning 9-1-1, Mitchell said.

“He watched that man get in a dark blue Jeep Cherokee,” he said. “He describes the vehicle and he gives the license plate number and he gives the direction of travel.”

A Moses Lake police corporal heard the report and happened to be within blocks of the bank, Mitchell continued.

“He comes upon that Jeep Cherokee, stops the vehicle. Lo and behold there’s a man in the vehicle,” he said. “Eventually evidence will be recovered, including a sum of money that almost exactly matches the audit of the drawer.”

The deputy prosecutor told the jury they won’t have any doubt about what happened in the bank once the evidence is presented.

“The question that is most at issue here is the question of sanity,” Mitchell said. “The legal definition of sanity is what will control this, not the social meaning that we all carry with us ... Mr. Pavese, whatever his decision making, whatever his problems, whatever his emotional well-being, was sane when he went into that bank.”

Pavese’s defense attorney Robert Kentner focused on whether Pavese was sane in his opening statements, saying he plans on calling psychologist Clay Jorgensen to show the defendant did not understand the nature of the crime and didn’t know right from wrong.

“(Jorgensen) has been doing evaluations. He has been testifying for many, many years,” Kentner said.

Kentner told the jury the psychologist learned about Pavese’s background, family history, the use and abuse of drugs during the defendant’s life.

“(Jorgensen’s) diagnosis, and this is based on what Mr. Pavese told him, he will share with you,” he said. “Mr. Pavese said he was hearing voices. He said that Mr. Pavese shared with him that people were out to kill him.”

Pavese reportedly told the psychologist the only place he felt safe was behind bars, Kentner said, adding the act was committed so Pavese could feel safe.

“Mr. Pavese suffers from a mental disease or defect. (Jorgensen) is also going to share with you that (Pavese) is suffering from psychotic delusions,” Kentner said. “Dr. Jorgensen believes that Mr. Pavese meets the legal definition of insanity.”

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