We sometimes do the unthinkable for the people we love.
And as a parent, Pierce County Superior Court Judge Edmund Murphy said Friday that he sympathized with a father who robbed a Tacoma bank as part of a failed effort to bring home his kidnapped 7-year-old daughter.
But as a judge, he said he had to protect the public.
“Banks cannot be part of your GoFundMe strategy,” he told David Henry Curry at his sentencing — a reference to the online fundraising site that had been part of Curry’s chaotic bid to retrieve his child.
The girl’s mother fled last year to Indonesia with the child, who is listed on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s website.
Murphy said he couldn’t imagine being in Curry’s position, but he agreed with prosecutors’ recommendation for a midrange sentence of three years in prison for the Tacoma heist.
Deputy Prosecutor Hugh Birgenheier pointed out that the 54-year-old Curry has three prior bank robbery convictions from years ago, and that he is charged for a bank robbery in Chico, California, that happened before the one in Tacoma.
“Most people go through their lives without robbing a bank,” Birgenheier told the court. “... This wasn’t a stress-related, spur-of-the-moment decision. This was something he planned out.”
Curry drove from his home in Sacramento, California, to Tacoma on Jan. 5, six months after his daughter’s abduction, and robbed the Key Bank near South 84th Street and Pacific Avenue.
He’d bought a BB gun on the way, and inside the bank demanded cash from a teller and showed her he was armed.
Police arrested him minutes later, after he got lost on his way back to Interstate 5.
The prosecutor said Curry had planned to either pay someone to kidnap his daughter in Indonesia, or to retrieve her himself, which the prosecutor said concerned the state.
“The United States Department of State warns against doing things like that,” Birgenheier said.
Curry disputed that he was going to pay somebody else to bring his daughter home.
“My plan was to go and get her myself,” he told the court.
He said he had full custody of the child when the mother took the girl to her home country. They were married, he said, but had separated after religious differences strained their relationship.
Curry said he begged various government officials and celebrities to help him get her back, without success.
Court records show government authorities checked on the girl’s well-being abroad, and told Curry he could try to go through the Indonesian court system to bring her home.
“It felt like the world didn’t care,” he told Murphy, in asking for mercy.
Curry apologized for his actions, and said the bank robbery was one of the worst decisions of his life.
Losing his daughter, he said, was his “worst nightmare come true.”
He told the judge he hopes to be reunited with the girl and her mother one day.
“I believe that she needs both of us in her life,” he said. “Hopefully, I can go over there and start a life again with my wife and my child.”
Curry represented himself last month when he pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery. Murphy appointed defense attorney Jason Johnson for the sentencing.
Johnson asked for a sentence of a year and four months, below the standard range. He told the judge that, as a child, Curry suffered abuse and trauma that was exacerbated by the kidnapping of his daughter.
It’s clear Curry was desperate to get his daughter back, the attorney said — so much so that he did things that weren’t in his own best interest.
Writing the judge about his guilt, for instance, and speaking to The News Tribune while the case was ongoing, Johnson said.
Curry fully confessed to the crime, Johnson told the court, and “really made it quite easy for the state.”
Murphy told Curry he was a man of several contradictions, one who had been able to live a fairly respectable life after the crimes he’d committed many years ago.
“Now you’re back here,” the judge said.