Defendant in Candlewood Suites disturbances, Hobby Lobby lockdown sentenced to prison after deciding against withdrawing plea Featured

Jose Avelar-Martinez (center) enters Judge Merlin Wheeler's courtroom before being sentenced to almost 2.5 years in prison after disturbances at Candlewood Suites and Hobby Lobby in April. Jose Avelar-Martinez (center) enters Judge Merlin Wheeler's courtroom before being sentenced to almost 2.5 years in prison after disturbances at Candlewood Suites and Hobby Lobby in April. Chuck Samples/KVOE News

Both people accused of triggering disturbances and, ultimately, several lockdowns in northwest Emporia in early April have now been sentenced.


On Monday, Jose Omar Avelar-Martinez was sentenced to a total of 29 months in prison -- 21 months for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, eight months for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Lyon County Administrative Judge Merlin Wheeler says the sentences are consecutive, both to this specific case and a felony case out of Oklahoma. Avelar-Martinez will serve his time in Kansas before going to Oklahoma.

Avelar-Martinez had announced a plan to withdraw his plea but decided against that step.

Avelar-Martinez and Jennifer Guerrero were accused after a disturbance at Emporia's Candlewood Suites. Martinez allegedly pointed a handgun at a housekeeping staffer and used his pickup to chase her before she crashed into a retaining wall. The woman then ran to Hobby Lobby, triggering unfounded reports of an active shooter situation and leading to short lockdowns at the business as well as Emporia High School, Emporia Middle School and Timmerman Elementary.

Avelar-Martinez was originally charged with possession of cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana, as well as distribution of alprazolam -- commonly called Xanax -- as well as aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and felon in possession of a firearm. Prosecutors and defense attorneys had reached a plea agreement with Avelar-Martinez serving a mitigated sentence of 26 months, but Wheeler said the standard sentencing range applied.

Guerrero, meanwhile, also faced charges of cocaine, meth and marijuana possession along with Xanax distribution. She pleaded to marijuana possession and is serving a year probation with an underlying prison term of six months.

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Last modified on Monday, 07 October 2019 14:12