KENNEWICK — A 26-year-old man is heading to prison after terrorizing his Richland neighborhood for months.
He broke into homes, prowled cars, stole $15,000 in cash and nearly shot a woman. It all culminated in an hours-long standoff at his Richland home on July 2021.
And Michael Alan Jackson Ham admitted he fully deserved the 12-year sentence he received, which was above the top end of the standard sentencing range.
“I know I have ruined those people’s lives,” he told Judge David Petersen during a recent hearing. “I feel terrible about all of those things. I know I deserve to be here. I know I deserve to go to prison.”
Ham previously pleaded guilty to second degree assault, two counts for first-degree burglary, second-degree burglary, second-degree possession of stolen property and two counts of theft of a gun.
The crimes would normally have carried a maximum sentence of just over 9 1/2 years, but the defense and prosecutors agreed that his crime spree called for the longer term.
“It was apparent that the standard range sentence was not sufficient,” Deputy Prosecutor Brandon Pang said. “When he’s released, he will still be a young man.”
Pang and Ham’s attorney Karla Kane said the crimes were driven by an uncontrolled drug addiction.
Kane said the time Ham has spent in jail has helped him start to change, and that he understands the seriousness of his acts. She believes he’ll be able to turn his life around.
Something Ham echoed in his own statement to Judge Petersen.
“You tried to kill somebody. It doesn’t get any worse than that,” Petersen told Ham. “Your statement to the court says that you get it. The court does appreciate that.”
Ham’s months-long crime spree began with what Pang described as a pretty standard case of vehicle prowling March 2021.
Police caught Ham with stolen ID cards and debit cards.
He was released without bail and stayed out of trouble for a few months, but then on in May 2021 he burglarized a home on Woodbury Street, according to court documents.
The distraught homeowner told police that she kept $15,000 in cash in a secret hiding space in the house, but she had taken the money out to pay for some home repairs. When she returned home after work, the home had been ransacked and burglarized.
Security camera footage showed Ham make three trips inside. He took $15,000, along with two handguns, a $7,000 ring, $500 in loose change and $500 in other jewelry, according to court documents.
The woman’s neighbor had called police a number of times about the suspicious man, but officers weren’t able to find him.
Ham lived one street away. When officers looked for him there, he wasn’t home.
One of the stolen guns turned up connected to an unrelated case. The man told police he bought the gun from Ham while they were at a bar. Ham also was flashing a large amount of cash.
Ham’s troubles came to a head in July 11 2021. It started when a woman who had been sleeping in a RV on the 1700 block of Boston Street woke up about 3:30 a.m. when someone was trying to get inside.
When she opened the door, Ham was standing nearby. She confronted him, and he responded, “You are being robbed. Better call the cops,” according to court documents.
Ham ran away, but the woman followed him. She soon noticed he had a rifle slung over his shoulder. He then turned and pointed what turned out to be a sawed-off shotgun at her. It had an attached laser which blinded her momentarily.
He fired a shot at her and ran away.
The owners of house where the woman had been staying in the RV discovered that Ham apparently got inside their garage using a door that had left open for the woman. Ham had emptied a safe.
About nine hours later, police were called to Ham’s McMurray Avenue home. He had reported that he had been in an argument with his parents.
His mother reported that he had a shotgun with him. Officers, along with the Tri-City Regional SWAT team surrounded the home. Police used flash-bang devices and less than lethal rounds to get him to surrender several hours later.