A Hutchinson man tearfully pleaded with an Ellis County judge Monday to go against the sentencing rules so he could one day see his son graduate high school, but in the end, the judge ruled his Ellis County sentence would follow the law.
David Scott Hunter, 37, was sentenced to 130 months in prison after pleading last month to charges of attempted aggravated robbery and possession of methamphetamine.
His criminal history of 34 previous convictions led to the 10-year, 10-month sentence on the state’s sentencing grid.
He was accused of robbing a 26-year-old Hays man of cash, cellphones and other items on March 29 after threatening him with a hatchet. The charges allege he and his wife, Hollie Hunter, 35, had offered the man a ride to his girlfriend’s house but instead drove out of town, where the man was threatened, then ordered out of the vehicle.
During separate preliminary hearings for the couple in May, the alleged victim had trouble remembering details and needed prompting from Ellis County Attorney Tom Drees to clarify his statements.
During questioning from David Hunter’s defense attorney, the man admitted he might test positive for marijuana and methamphetamine. At that point, Magistrate Judge Richard Flax called a halt to the proceedings and ordered the man to undergo a test for drugs, which did show substance use.
The preliminary hearings for each of the Hunters were rescheduled for June, but before they were held, Hollie Hunter agreed to a plea bargain that would have her testify against her husband. David Hunter then agreed to a plea bargain as well.
Hollie Hunter was sentenced Monday morning to three years of probation for charges of aiding and abetting her husband in the commission of a robbery and possession of methamphetamine. She will also pay $150 restitution to the victim.
She remains in custody in the Ellis County Jail, as Reno County requested she be held to face a misdemeanor charge there.
David Hunter was on parole in Reno County at the time of the alleged kidnapping and robbery in Ellis County, with an underlying prison sentence of 21 months, which he must finish before the Ellis County sentence takes effect, giving him about 12 years in prison.
It was that element that brought David Hunter to tears during allocution — when the defendant is given the opportunity to speak to the judge before the sentence is announced.
David Hunter asked Ellis County District Court Chief Judge Glenn Braun to make his Ellis County sentence run concurrent to the Reno County sentence, rather than consecutive.
“I pray that you run them concurrent so I can see my son graduate,” he said, sobbing.
David Hunter said he made a mistake and admitted to threatening the victim, but denied the robbery.
He said the man had made a pass at his wife and given them meth.
“I was very aggressive to this man. I didn’t take nothing from him, I didn’t,” he said.
A Hays police officer testified in the preliminary hearing that after the Hunters were arrested at a Hays hotel, a backpack and other items the victim identified as his were found in their hotel room.
Hunter told the judge he had been sober for nearly a year when he and his wife had come to Hays to find a new home.
“I got scared of success. I didn’t want to disappoint my kids and family. I got scared of disappointing them. I’ve never done good in my life,” he said.
“I made a stupid mistake,” he said, sobbing.
He told the judge the first time he did meth was with his mother when he was 13.
Drees said of Hunter’s 34 previous convictions, 12 were adult felonies. He has been to prison nine times for a total of 146 months. His adult convictions include forgery, drug possession, aggravated arson, theft and burglary in Reno and Barton counties, according to Kansas Department of Corrections records.
With credit for time in jail and good behavior, he could be released from the Ellis County sentence in eight and a half to nine years.
However, he is also facing charges in Rice County with a potential 27-month sentence. He said he understood his attorney there had filed a motion to withdraw the charges as part of the Reno County case.