July 23, 2016

Partly sunny

22-year-old to serve 6 years for robbing pipe from tobacco shop

MEDINA — A 22-year-old former student athlete has been sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty to robbing a head shop at gunpoint in May.

Seth Cunningham, of Medina, a senior at the University of Akron, entered the Twilight Boutique in Brunswick’s Archway Plaza just after midnight May 13.

Workers at the shop said he was wearing a camouflage jacket and wielding a 9 mm handgun when he entered the store and took a “glass water bong” worth $447.

Seth Cunningham

Seth Cunningham

On Monday, Medina County Common Pleas Judge Christopher J. Collier sentenced Cunningham to six years in prison, the minimum sentence he could have received for the crime.

County Prosecutor Dean Holman said the six-year sentence was what prosecutors asked for after reaching a plea deal with Cunningham in March.

“The gun was not loaded, but he did use it during the robbery, which makes it a dangerous situation,” Holman said. “A victim or a bystander could have also pulled a gun and started shooting.”

Aggravated robbery carries a sentence of three to 11 years in Ohio, and the use of a gun adds three years to the charge. As a result, Cunningham faced a maximum of six to 14 years in prison.

Holman said his office was prepared to take the case to trial, and said he would have asked for a six-year sentence if Cunningham had been found guilty at trial.

“We took a serious look at the case and we were happy with the outcome we got,” Holman said.

He said the presence of a gun in the robbery made it difficult for his office to allow Cunningham to plead to a lesser charge that would have carried a reduced prison sentence.

“It was a serious crime and I refused to reduce the six-year sentence to anything less,” Holman said.

When Cunningham entered a plea of no contest in March as part of a plea deal with prosecutors, Collier warned Cunningham that he could sentence him to more than six years and that the law allowed him final discretion. But at Monday’s sentencing, Collier said he reviewed the case and decided the sentence prosecutors were asking for was fair.

“Six seemed right,” Collier said when reached for comment Tuesday. “He had an unloaded weapon and no prior convictions of any kind.”

Collier said Cunningham and his attorney said in court Monday that Cunningham was a heavy marijuana user and was having trouble sleeping.

Collier said Cunningham told him he didn’t have anything to smoke with, so he borrowed the unloaded gun from a friend to rob the Twilight Boutique.

“It was as stupid as that,” Collier said.

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.

Loren Genson About Loren Genson

Loren Genson was The Gazette's senior reporter. From August 2012 through September 2015, she covered Brunswick city and state and national government. To contact The Gazette, call the managing editor at (330) 721-4065.