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Former three-striker released by Inslee back in jail, accused of string of robberies

Seattle Police arrested David Conyers, the accused "Bob the Builder Bandit," on Wednesday in connection to a string of robberies last month. (Photo: Seattle Police)

SEATTLE - When David Conyers was led away from a King County courtroom more than 20 years ago he was never to be a free man again.

Convicted in a string of convenience-store robberies throughout Seattle, Conyers became the 29th person in the state sentenced to life under the three-strikes-you’re-out law. He was just 21 when he was turned over to the Department of Corrections - at the time the youngest three-striker in the state.

In 2015 he was given a second chance, in the form of a commutation by Gov. Jay Inslee. But freedom was short-lived.

On Wednesday a team of Seattle police detectives showed up at United Recycling, the Georgetown plant where Conyers has been working.

A witness had contacted police this week after seeing images of the man they had nicknamed the “Bob the Builder Bandit” in the media. The witness said the man resembled Conyers.

Conyers was booked into the King County Jail for investigation of robbery. On Thursday, a judge ordered him held in lieu of $500,000 bail.

Inslee, during a news conference Thursday, defended his decision to commute Conyers’ sentence.

“It was a decision based on the information we had now and but I’ll tell you what I feel right now, for somebody to get a second chance like that and to blow it,” Inslee said. “That’s maddening.”

John Carlson, the Conservative talk radio host who helped craft the three-strikes law, told KOMO Thursday that Conyers had blown his chance.

“I mean when you get the luckiest break you can hope for, you get out of prison even though you struck out and you’re going right back to your old ways you’re clearly showing you should have never been out in the first place,” Carlson said.

Carlson was critical of Inslee and King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, who both said they supported Conyers’ release because the man was freed after serving 20 years.

“It should not have happened with David Conyers. David Conyers was a career criminal,” Carlson said. “This time, regardless of what Jay Inslee wants, this guy stays in prison forever.”

But, immediately heading back to prison is not in the cards for Conyers.

The prosecutor’s office said that because his sentence was commuted he will have to be tried on the new crimes. If convicted of at least one of the robbery counts, he could face another life sentence – and again be labeled a “three-striker.”

While Conyers declined to appear at his first-appearance hearing Thursday, he spoke with KOMO after his third-strike in the 1990s.

“It’s wrong for these people to do me like this,” Conyers said. “First of all I’m young, I need more treatment than I need incarceration. You see I was high and under the influence of drugs.”

During an interview at the King County Jail, Conyers said he shouldn’t face a life sentence because he hadn’t hurt anybody.

“I might have done something wrong, you know but I didn’t hurt anybody and I didn’t kill anybody,” he said.

But former King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng, who passed away in 2007, told KOMO during an interview nearly 20 years ago that Conyers was the kind of criminal the three-strikes law was written for.

“This is a classic case of someone who had repeated chances and didn’t take advantage of those opportunities,” Maleng said.

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