One of the two men who allegedly committed several gas station robberies in Hopkinsville as teenagers received his final sentence in the case Friday morning in Christian Circuit Judge John Atkins’ courtroom.
Tequan Owen, 21, appeared in Atkins’ courtroom in person along with his defense attorney Eric Bearden.
Owen had been originally scheduled to receive his sentence on Dec. 30, but Atkins postponed the hearing to allow Owen and Bearden to determine if Owen’s current employer, MSSC Inc., would allow him to continue to work while incarcerated on work release.
Owen previously pleaded guilty to the charges of attempted first-degree robbery and second-degree burglary, which carried a total recommended sentence of 10 years in prison.
Owen was originally charged in two cases, one in 2017 and the other in 2019. In his 2017 case he was charged with three counts of second-degree robbery, those charges were dropped as part of his plea.
In his 2019 case he was charged with attempted first-degree robbery and second-degree burglary, which he pleaded guilty to.
During Owen’s sentencing hearing on Dec. 30, Bearden argued for the judge to grant Owen probation based on his behavior while released from jail as well as his current employment and jail time he had already served.
“Frankly this series of events here was the first time he had ever been in any real trouble at all,” Bearden said to the judge. “And, given the amount of jail credit that he’s got and the fact that he’s beyond parole eligible, the fact that he’s done so well and has got himself a good job … I would ask the court to seriously consider probation in this case.”
Bearden added that he had already spent just over three years in prison and that he would already be parole eligible.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jerad Smith who spoke on behalf of Commonwealth’s Attorney Rick Boling during the December meeting, argued against granting Owen probation.
Smith argued that the commonwealth had offered the deal with the understanding that the commonwealth is opposed to probation based on the fact that Owen’s charges include armed robbery of a gas station and a separate burglary.
“An armed robbery is a very serious thing that places not only the victims, but the defendant in danger of his life too,” Smith said to Atkins. “I think violent acts like that, to probate them diminishes the seriousness of the charges.”
Smith continued to ask Atkins to enforce the plea agreement as it was written, opposing probation.
On Friday, Bearden shared with the court that MSSC would allow Owen to continue to work on work release.
“I can vouch for that — they are — as long as he can show up when he’s supposed to, they are absolutely willing to let him work on work release,” Bearden said to Atkins.
Boling, who is prosecuting the case, appeared via Zoom to share that the commonwealth along with the victim in the case opposes granting Owen probation or work release.
“The victim in this case is very adamant that she wants the defendant to serve this sentence,” Boling said to the judge.
“The only reason for the modification was the anticipated testimony of the co-defendant, which mitigated Mr. Owen’s involvement, but did not excuse his involvement. But, again, our position is, we oppose probation, we oppose work release. Again, on behalf of the victim in this case, she would oppose any type of work release or anything that would allow him to not serve out this sentence.”
Ultimately, Atkins sided with Owen and Bearden and imposed his 10 year sentence, but allowed him to work on work release.
“It is my judgement that probation, having been considered, probation is denied,” Atkins said. “However, I am going to agree to impose work release, but I’m going to give you a surrender date of Jan. 15.”
Atkins continued to explain that Owen is required to turn himself in to the Christian County Jail on Jan. 15 before or after his work shift that day.
Between now and then, Atkins required the defense to fill out the proper work release paperwork between the defense, the commonwealth and the jail.