A two-day Jury Trial was conducted Tuesday and Wednesday in the Pawnee County District Court regarding a criminal complaint against Zachary Hutchens, age 20 of Garden City.
The jury heard testimony that around 5:15 p.m. on September 6, 2016, a motorist in Great Bend witnessed a young woman in another vehicle being struck repeatedly and having her hair pulled. The motorist testified that when their vehicles were side by side at the intersection 10th and Main the woman looked at him and mouthed “Help me, help me, please help me!”
The motorist then called 911 and followed the suspect vehicle to Ellinwood. As the suspect vehicle entered Ellinwood on US Highway 56 it tried to elude an Ellinwood Police Department Officer that was sitting at the edge of town. The vehicle was ultimately stopped in an alleyway. The Barton County Sheriff’s Department also responded to the scene.
The Ellinwood officer found a very distraught 17-year-old female in the vehicle with Hutchens. She told the officers that Hutchens had forced her into the car in Larned and that every time she tried to exit the vehicle he struck her and pulled her hair.
The defendant was taken into custody at the scene by the Barton County Sheriff’s Department. The deputies testified they classified the case as a “rolling domestic” and
it was referred to the Larned Police Department for follow-up as the jurisdiction in which the incident started.
At trial, the girl told the jury that she had been in an on again off again relationship with Hutchens for approximately a month. After they broke up, they had made arrangements to meet September 6, 2016, at 4:30 p.m. in Schack Park in Larned to exchange property. Once there, an argument ensued and Hutchens took her car keys and cellular phone. When she tried to walk away the defendant grabbed her arm and forced her into the passenger side of her vehicle and then drove the vehicle in the direction of Great Bend. She further testified that Hutchens stated he would drive head on into a semi-truck if she continued to try to escape. The defendant later threw her cellular phone out the window.
The jury made up of five women and seven men deliberated for approximately three hours before returning at 6:40 p.m. Wednesday with guilty verdicts for aggravated kidnapping, theft of a motor vehicle, aggravated endangering of a child and misdemeanor theft. Prior to the case being sent to the jury, the Court dismissed a charge of criminal threat.
Following the reading of the verdict, presiding Judge Bruce Gatterman advised Hutchens that he will now be subject to lifetime registration as a violent offender. The defendant was already a registered sex offender. The defendant was then remanded to the custody of the Pawnee County Sheriff.
The defendant is also subject to a probation hold for a prior Finney County conviction for aggravated indecent solicitation of a child of less than 14 years of age. Sentencing is scheduled for November 16, 2017 at 2 p.m.. Depending on his criminal history, Hutchens faces a maximum sentence of 653 months in the custody of the Department of Corrections for the aggravated kidnapping conviction to run consecutive to his Finney County convictions by operation of law.
Pawnee County Attorney Douglas McNett presented the State’s case at trial. Hutchens was represented by Scott James and Chay Howard of Greensburg.