By JAMES BELL
Tanner Lee Cullens was sentenced in Ellis County District Court Friday to 71 months in prison for his involvement in a February robbery in Ellis County.
Cullens and co-defendent Jeremy David Schulmeister were arrested in February after they allegedly offered a ride to Max Diederich on Feb. 7. Instead, investigators said they took Diederich took a rural area at gunpoint and robbed him of his phone, clothing and cash, before forcing him out of a moving vehicle.
In June, Cullens was found guilty by 23rd Judicial District Chief Judge Glenn Braun after entering a no-contest plea but later filed a motion to withdraw the plea.
During sentencing, the court first took up that motion.
After consulting with his attorney, J. Alex Herman, Cullens confirmed with the court he had not been coerced or threatened and decided to withdraw the motion to withdraw his plea.
Herman also confirmed with Cullens during the proceedings that he was not being coerced in his decision to withdraw the motion.
Neither the state, represented by Ellis County Attorney Tom Drees, nor the defendant or his attorney presented evidence or made statements prior to sentencing.
The mother of the victim was in the courtroom and also declined to make a statement.
Drees asked the court for the 71-month sentence originally agreed upon and said he felt it is appropriate given the facts of the case and his lack of a criminal record.
Herman agreed and said he believes the evidence would show that Cullens was culpable for the crimes, but was not involved to the same level as his co-defendant Schulmeister.
Braun said his willingness to cooperate with law enforcement and offer a statement that would ultimately aid in Schulmeister’s decision to enter into a plea agreement saved the court time and cost of a jury trial and would be beneficial to the victim.
Braun sentenced Cullens in line with the plea agreement, sentencing him to 59 months for aggravated robbery, with 36 months of post-release supervision, to run concurrently with a sentence of 18 months for aggravated intimidation of a victim along with 12 months for aggravated battery to run consecutively — totaling 71 months.
He was also ordered to pay $255 in restitution to the victim related to the phone that was stolen that was not returned to the victim along with $438 in court costs.
Cullens will be credited for time served — 211 days.
He was warned that despite a lack of prior convictions, since the sentencing was for three felonies, once released he can no longer be in possession of a firearm, per federal law, and cannot vote or hold office in Kansas, per state law.