The robbery that led to the death of a Manhattan man in November was planned, a man involved in the incident said Thursday in Riley County District Court.
Richard Goens, 29, Manhattan, and Dylan Hitsman, 20, Abilene, had a joint preliminary hearing Thursday. Both are charged with first-degree murder, attempted aggravated robbery, aggravated battery and aggravated assault. Goens faces an additional charge of possession with intent to distribute marijuana while Hitsman also is charged with criminal discharge of a firearm.
Shamar Sutton, 45, Manhattan, said Thursday he had been involved in a plan to rob Tanner Zamecnik, 24, of marijuana, which ultimately ended in the man’s death.
Sutton entered into an agreement with the Riley County Attorney’s Office to plead to second-degree murder, attempted aggravated robbery and aggravated battery in exchange for two other charges to be dropped and his testimony at the hearing.
Sutton could face 12 to 15 years in prison at his sentencing, as opposed to 25 years to life in prison if convicted by a jury for the original charges.
Sutton said the night of Nov. 1, he had gone to Goens’ apartment to purchase marijuana from him. There, he was joined by Goens’ girlfriend and two brothers, whom he later knew as Dylan and Jaylon Hitsman.
Sutton said Goens, who he’d known for a couple of months, did not have enough marijuana on him and Dylan suggested he knew another dealer they could buy from. Sutton said the conversation eventually led to talks of robbing the marijuana. Before the group left to execute the plan, Sutton said Goens showed a gun to the group. They arranged to meet Zamecnik near Park Place Apartments, in the 1400 block of Cambridge Place, just before 10 p.m.
Sutton said he waited in the car with Goens while the Hitsmans entered Zamecnik’s car.
Sutton said he and Goens received a signal from the brothers, and Goens left to eventually approach Zamecnik’s car, gun on his person. Sutton said he was looking at his phone at first, but when he looked up, he saw a flash, Zamecnik’s car back up and then drive forward to hit another parked vehicle and the apartment building.
Sutton said Goens walked back to his car, told him he thought he shot someone and they drove back to Goens’ apartment. Sutton said he later refused Dylan’s request to pick the brothers up because he didn’t want to become further involved.
Riley County police tracked Sutton down the following day and defense lawyers questioned him Tuesday about inconsistencies in his accounts to police, saying he did not initially tell police about his involvement in the incident or that it was a planned robbery. Sutton said he was scared at first, but he eventually wanted to “come clean” because the situation was “weighing on him.”
Courtney Yowell, Zamecnik’s girlfriend at the time, said she was with Zamecnik in his car during the deal. Yowell said she normally did not join or see Zamecnik while he sold marijuana so the incident on Nov. 1 was her first time being present. She said they were parked outside her apartment complex when two men entered the backseat.
Yowell said she did not look at the men too much and she turned to face the front when she saw another man approach the vehicle. She said the man opened the back door and when he asked where the marijuana was, the two men in back jumped out of the vehicle and she heard a gun cock.
Yowell said she saw a flash and heard a gunshot and Zamecnik tried to back out of the stall. When he put the car in drive, Yowell said Zamecnik’s injury caused him to lose control and crash into another vehicle, pushing them both vehicles toward the apartment building.
Yowell said she didn’t see where any of the other men had gone because of how quickly the incident took place, and in the process of attempting to help Zamecnik, she suffered a fractured ankle.
Emergency responders took both to the hospital for treatment of their injuries, but Zamecnik later died.
Judge William Malcom bound Goens and Dylan Hitsman over on all counts, finding the state established probable cause, and set arraignment dates in August for both.