A man convicted for a 2019 shooting in Manhattan will spend at least 36 years in prison, following emotional testimony Thursday by the victim’s family.
Richard Goens was convicted of first degree murder among other charges in January for the killing of Tanner Zamecnik in what was described by prosecutors as a robbery plot gone wrong. Goens was also convicted on five other charges stemming from the evening of Nov. 1, 2019, including attempted aggravated robbery, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, criminal discharge of a firearm and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.
Goens received a lifetime sentence for first degree murder with the possibility of parole in 25 years. He was further sentenced to 196 months for the additional charges, though that amount was capped to 142 months or two months shy of 12 years. That is the result of Kansas statute, specifically KS Stat § 21-6819 (2014), that limits sentences to no more than double the sentence of the base charge — for which Goens received 71 months for criminal discharge of a firearm at an occupied vehicle. The sentencing rule does not apply to the murder charge.
The sentences will run consecutively, meaning Goens will have to serve the 142 month sentence if paroled on his lifetime sentence before he can be eligible for release. Deputy Riley County Attorney Trinity Muth requested the sentence of Judge Grant Bannister in Riley County District Court, saying “that is a just outcome.”
Earlier in the day, co-defendant Shamar Sutton was handed a 123 month prison sentence. That equates to 10 years, 3 months. Sutton entered into a plea agreement on charges of second degree murder, attempted aggravated robbery and aggravated battery. Additional co-defendants Jaylon and Dylan Hitsman were sentenced to 15 and 24 years, respectively.
Prior to sentencing, Muth was candid that Zamecnik was in the wrong for selling marijuana illegally, “but that doesn’t give this defendant the right to kill him.”
Muth says while others involved in the crime took responsibility, “some moreso than others,” Goens never did. He repeated evidence presented in trial of Goens’ denial of involvement and comments on the stand as indicative of him lying repeatedly, arguing that ought to be considered in the courts sentence.
Nick Heiman represented Goens in the trial, saying he had no intent to minimize the impact to the victim’s family as well as Goens’. He argued that no jury found that Goens lied, but rather they found that he was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and it would be “improper” for the court to consider it as otherwise.
Heiman also argued that the court should not punish Goens for exercising his right to trial by holding him to a higher standard for not pleading guilty. Bannister ultimately agreed, saying that was not included in sentencing considerations.
Goens did not make remarks at the trial, though numerous members of the Zamecnik family rose to speak. Mother Sandra Zamecnik says the pain of Tanner’s death will never fade, and that the trial forced the family to experience graphic sights and sounds from the evening Tanner was killed.
“Tanner was one of the toughest targets you could have chosen,” Sandra said to Goens in court, audibly grieving. “You robbed him of his future.”
Sandra says Goens was arrogant and smug throughout the trial, and that now he’ll have to answer for his actions — in this life and the next.
“I would have taken the bullet for him,” she says. “Mr. Goens deserves as much time as you can possibly give him.”
Father John Zamecnik also spoke, saying “we will never be the same” after the loss of Tanner. He also commented on the hollow point round used in the shooting, noting his familiarity with firearms.
“Hollow points have no purpose but to cause extensive damage.”
Tanner’s girlfriend, Courtney Yowell, was there the night he was killed and was injured as the vehicle the two were occupied accelerated forward and collided with another vehicle and building following the shooting.
She says she’s struggled every day, both emotionally and physically, since that day more than two years and four months ago. But Yowell says she’s thankful to be alive and is gaining a new perspective on life amid her survival.
“I’m learning to live this life without Tanner beside me and I’m trying to love again.”
Goens is also responsible for restitution totaling $19,219.24. He was also credited for the 852 days in jail he’s already served. Bannister told Goens and Heiman the deadline to file a notice of appeal is 14 days.