After some deliberation on the bench, an Ellis County District Court judge stuck with the plea agreement a man reached with the county attorney’s office in a December armed robbery at a Hays hotel.
“This is a tough one,” District Court Chief Judge Glenn Braun said while considering the sentence for Pascual Rueda Guzman, 22, Monday afternoon, citing Guzman’s two prior felony convictions as a cause for concern.
Guzman was serving a 12-month post-release supervision for a conviction of unlawful voluntary sexual relations with a 15 year-old when he and Dean Joseph Manning, 26, were arrested in December for the robbery in which a man was shot with a Co2 powered gun.
The victim reported to police he was at a hotel in the 3400 block of Vine on Dec. 9 when he opened the door to a knock. Manning and Guzman forced their way in, with Manning holding the gun to the victim’s face. They demanded cash and a .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun they said the man had stolen from Guzman.
The victim was shot in the face, resulting in an entry and exit wound to his cheek that required staples and resulted in permanent scarring, according to court documents.
Had the weapon not been just a gas-powered gun, Braun said to Guzman, he likely would not have survived.
“Taking the law into your own hands leads to these kinds of results,” Braun said.
While Guzman initially did not speak for himself, his attorney, Kip Johnson, told Braun that Guzman has expressed remorse and wrote a letter of apology to the victim he had planned to read if the victim had been present at sentencing.
Ellis County Attorney Tom Drees said the victim had been notified through the courts and his attorney of the sentencing date, but he was not present Monday. Drees said he would forward Guzman’s letter to the man’s attorney.
Braun asked again if Guzman had nothing to say before continuing. Guzman told the judge he has been attending Alcoholics Anonymous that he and several other Ellis County Jail inmates have been conducting on their own.
“Part of what happened had to do with alcohol,” Guzman said.
Braun asked Guzman if he understood what this conviction would mean for him once he’s out of prison.
“It means I can’t get into any more trouble, and if I do, it’s going to be really bad,” Guzman said.
Braun explained the conviction will move him higher up on the Kansas sentencing grid, which would mean a longer sentence for any future convictions.
“You’re looking at a big chunk of your young adulthood will be spent behind bars,” Braun said.
Having said that, Braun stuck with the plea agreement, which matches Guzman’s sentence to Manning’s — 32 months for the aggravated battery charge and 18 months for the intimidation charge to be served concurrently, with a 24-month post-release supervision.
He has served 276 days in the Ellis County Jail, but Drees said he was not sure how the Department of Corrections will apply that with his post-release supervision for the previous felony charge.