SEATTLE — Former Washington linebacker Jeremiah Pharms has been sentenced to nearly 3 1/2 years in prison for a drug-related robbery that left a Seattle man wounded and derailed Pharms' NFL career.
"It's difficult to imagine a more serious robbery without it becoming an attempted-murder conviction," King County Superior Court Judge Paris Kallas said.
Pharms was sentenced Friday. He entered a modified guilty plea last month. His lawyers feared an additional charge of first-degree assault, and possibly a longer sentence, if the case went to trial.
Prosecutors said Pharms was wearing a ski mask and holding a gun when he burst into the man's University District home in March 2000 to steal his marijuana stash.
They said Pharms ended up shooting the man in the leg. A second robber was never identified.
"The defendant committed an egregious crime; you cannot overlook that he almost took a man's life over a bag of marijuana," deputy prosecutor Mike Lang said.
Pharms' lawyers said he went to the house only to buy marijuana, contending the gun belonged to the dealer and disputing that he wore a mask.
"There was an argument in the room, the gun went off, and Mr. Pharms left," said attorney Jeff Robinson, who asked for a 2 1/2-year prison term.
Pharms said he wanted to "apologize to my family and friends and everybody involved in this whole situation. It never should have happened."
Pharms was charged with robbery in May, more than a year after the crime.
In the interim, he played a full season for the Washington Huskies and went to the Rose Bowl.
In April, the Cleveland Browns picked him in the fifth round of the NFL draft. Because of his legal problems, the team released him in June.
He lives in Sacramento, Calif., where he has a wife and five children, including twins. He will begin serving the sentence Jan. 25 and will be eligible for parole in 2 years, 5 months.