Puzzled by robberies, judge orders North Bethesda man to serve 16 years in prison -- Gazette.Net


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This story was updated at 3:50 p.m. on July 22, 2013.

In the months before he went on a spree of armed robberies in January 2012 in Montgomery County, Ramon Gunn seemed to have it all.

A recent graduate from Barry University, Gunn, now 27, had landed a job at MedImmune in Gaithersburg earning $70,000 a year. An Eagle Scout, he also had earned a master’s degree in accounting, bought a new Mercedes and moved into an upscale apartment building in North Bethesda. His girlfriend, who aspired to become a doctor in the U.S. Navy, had moved from Michigan to Bethesda to study medicine at the Uniformed Service University of Medicine.

Then, Gunn bought a replica handgun and cased restaurants and salons, returning days later to rob them.

The crimes confused family members and law officials.

“By your actions, you’ve thrown your life away, and I’m not really sure why,” Bernard told Gunn on Thursday, ordering him to serve 16 years in prison and suspending the additional 95 years of the 111-year sentence she imposed.

Gunn has been indicted on similar charges in Delaware, officials said.

Police caught Gunn robbing the Night Dreams store in Rockville on Feb. 20, 2012. It was one of a half-dozen crimes he told police he had committed, according to court records, which show that the spree began with a robbery at a Subway in Germantown.

Gunn also robbed employees of hair salons and fast-food restaurants in Rockville and Gaithersburg. At one salon, he sexually assaulted a woman working there, according to court records.

“This was the product of great thought and great planning over and over again, Montgomery County Assistant State’s Attorney John Lalos told Bernard.

In total, police pegged him to seven armed robberies in Montgomery County. He allegedly committed two others in Delaware while on a business trip there, lawyers said in court, adding that the lack of apparent motive made the situation all the more “bizarre.”s

Gunn’s lawyer and his family members attributed Gunn’s crime spree to longtime emotional stress that had been building around his relationship with his father, a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other factors.

“Mr. Gunn needs to own this,” Lalos said, asking for a 70-year sentence, with 40 years suspended, so Gunn would serve 30 years in prison.

Laura Kelsey Rhodes, Gunn’s attorney, had asked for 18 months in jail, on top of the 18 months he has already spent in jail, as well as probation and GPS monitoring. She argued that he had no prior criminal history and would be more likely to be rehabilitated in the Montgomery County Department of Correction and Rehabilitation and with continued therapy.

In ordering Gunn to serve 16 years in prison, Bernard chose a middle ground, saying, “I can’t consider an 18-month sentence.” Although Gunn had accepted responsibility for his actions, “this is not something where you can just snap your fingers and this is going to be done and over,” Bernard said.

Gunn pleaded guilty to seven counts of armed robbery and one count of fourth-degree sex offense in December 2012.

Rhodes attributed Gunn’s actions to a “psychotic break” and argued that Gunn had been under “huge pressure” in 2011.

“We know now he needs treament,” she said, calling his actions “further evidence he wasn’t on notice for how ill he was.”

Gunn’s victims, meanwhile, said they carried the memories and mental scars of his robberies.

“I feel like he’s taken something from me,” one victim said. Another said, “I live my life in fear, to be honest.”

Gunn said the time he has spent in jail “opened his eyes.”

“There isn’t a day or night where I don’t think about all the suffering I caused you,” he said, apologizing to his victims and family.

Gunn’s crimes caught his friends and family by surprise. Family members said in court that Gunn seemed unaware of the ramifications of his actions when he was arrested.

“It still doesn’t make sense to me,” said Richard Duncan, Gunn’s uncle. “That’s not the Ramon I knew growing up.”

Lindsey Kiss, an ensign in the U.S. Navy studying to be a doctor, said she met Ramon while the two were in school in Florida.

He encouraged her to move home to Michigan to prepare for her exams to apply for medical school, she said. But they quarreled when he learned that she wanted to join the military.

After Gunn was first arrested, she visited him in the hospital.

“I was playing football and got tackled,” she said he told her.

Later, he admitted he had been arrested for armed robbery.

The two are still a couple, she said in court. “I love him. I think that he’s a really good person who made a really bad mistake. ... I believe in him.”

Gunn’s father visited him earlier this week, Gunn said. He hadn’t been expecting the visit, but his father told him, “No matter what happens, we love you.”

“He’s never said anything like that before,” Gunn said, weeping.

sjbsmith@gazette.net