A man convicted of kidnapping and robbery for a botched abduction in Knappa last year was sentenced to 15 years in prison in Clatsop County Circuit Court Thursday.

Justin Walch, 25, was given two consecutive 90-month sentences by Circuit Court Judge Phil Nelson for his role in an attempted kidnapping of a woman outside a rural residence in March.

Walch hatched a plan with another man, Robert Bulleri, to lure the 26-year-old victim out of a residence on Tamberg Road and rob her. When the woman came out of the house, Walch grabbed her and attempted to shove her into the trunk of a car. The woman, who was injured in the head and throat, managed to escape.

Walch and Bulleri fled to the Riverine apartment complex in Astoria, where police found them hiding in an apartment.

Walch was convicted of first-degree kidnapping and first-degree robbery at a jury trial last November. The jury acquitted him of attempted aggravated murder. The prosecution claimed Walch intended to kill the victim because a meat cleaver, crow bar and electrical tape were found in the vehicle.

Bulleri, 21, pleaded guilty to second-degree assault and was sentenced to five years and eight months in prison.

According to the Clatsop County District Attorney's office, the case was unusual in that Nelson, after the verdict, sought a separate opinion from the jury on whether the kidnapping and robbery were separate acts or part of the same act. When the jury said the two acts were separate, that allowed Nelson the option of making the two sentences consecutive - one served after the other - instead of concurrent.

At Thursday's sentencing Nelson pointed to Walch's extensive criminal history, which includes a dozen convictions, most for assaults and burglaries, and said the longer, 15-year sentence was justified in order to protect the community.


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