A Douglas County judge Thursday sentenced two Wichita men to serve nearly 11 years in prison for robbing three female Kansas University students last year at a Lawrence apartment.
“I don’t have to tell you that what you did was horrible,” District Judge Paula Martin told the two men.
Assistant district attorney Deborah Moody read a letter from one of the three victims who said she and her roommates were held at gunpoint and ordered to get on the floor. The victim also said she had a bruise on her arm where one of the robbers had grabbed her.
“The worse part, I trust no one and think everyone could be an attacker,” wrote the woman, who said she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.
D’Andre W. Williams and Jerome DeShaun Tucker, both 21, could have been sentenced to serve 20 years in prison. But Martin followed a plea agreement when sentencing the men.
However, each man’s defense attorney said the sentences weren’t fair because Michael Hammond — a Kansas University student at the time who recruited them to rob a suspected drug dealer in the 1100 block of Louisiana Street — received 60 days in jail and probation. Another co-defendant, D’Andre Tomlin, has not yet been sentenced in the case.
“(Hammond) is the ring leader,” said Tucker’s defense attorney Greg Robinson. “He’s the one who set up the whole thing.”
Hammond, also 21, pleaded no contest earlier this year to two counts of conspiracy to commit burglary. During the Dec. 2 robbery, while Tucker waited in the car, Tomlin and Williams entered the wrong apartment and held the women at gunpoint, stealing a television, laptop and other items. Hammond and three other co-defendants went back to the same apartment building the next night, Dec. 3, to try to burglarize the apartment of the alleged drug dealer, but police interrupted and arrested them.
“My only problem is the fairness in this case,” said Williams’ mother, Dana Williams. “How does one boy plan two robberies, and three are left to hang for it?”
Hammond’s case proceeded under a different judge, District Judge Kay Huff. Moody said Hammond pleaded to two counts for incidents on both nights, and she also said Hammond cooperated with authorities and agreed to testify if necessary in the Wichita men’s cases. Huff also ordered Hammond to serve two months in jail, a stricter penalty than what was negotiated in his plea agreement.
“Without Mr. Hammond, (Tomlin, Williams and Tucker) would not have been identified and would not have been before this court,” Moody said.
But Robinson said Lawrence police didn’t make the connection between the two cases until they reviewed Hammond’s phone records.
Defense attorneys Thursday also argued it was unfair that their clients must register as violent offenders because a firearm was used in the robbery. Hammond won’t be required to.
“Our criminal justice system believes in aiding and abetting,” Williams’ defense attorney Jason Billam said. “Our criminal justice system takes that into account.”
Martin said she didn’t disagree Hammond’s deal was unfair but said prosecutors control how they charge cases.
“(Hammond’s) not the person who holds a gun to the victims’ heads,” Martin also said.
The judge also said there were conflicting factors for both defendants, who mostly received the sentences they did based on their past criminal history. Tucker, who was the driver for the Dec. 2 robbery, never entered the apartment, but he was on probation at the time for two Sedgwick County burglary convictions. Williams also had juvenile convictions for burglary.
Tucker will get credit for the 10 months he has spent in jail awaiting resolution of the case, but he also will spend more time in prison than 130 months because his probation from the Sedgwick County cases is expected to be revoked. Williams only spent a week in jail in this case before he posted bond, and he was taken into custody after Thursday’s hearing.
Both Tucker and Williams apologized to the victims in court and said they regretted their decisions to come to Lawrence that night.
Tomlin did not show up in October for his sentencing and a warrant is out for his arrest, according to court records.