Woman sentenced in Johnson County kidnapping, robbery case

The woman who kidnapped Edna Wells at knifepoint warned her to not scream or do anything funny.

But she didn’t say anything about praying, and that’s just what the 81-year-old Shawnee woman did as she was forced to drive around Johnson County and withdraw money from ATMs.

“Lord, give me wisdom,” Wells repeated to herself on that August day in 2010.

That’s when Wells said she thought to go to a bank where they would have to walk inside. There, Wells mouthed “help” to the teller. Realizing that something was wrong, her abductor fled and police were called.

On Tuesday, Wells faced that woman again in a Johnson County courtroom and saw her sentenced to 11 years in prison.

Sarah Nicole Zaragoza, now 24, received the same sentence as the one imposed earlier on her co-defendant, 41-year-old Rachel Ann Batista, who drove Zaragoza to the Shawnee grocery store where Wells was accosted.

Assistant District Attorney Vanessa Riebli said they intentionally targeted an elderly, vulnerable victim. She argued that because Zaragoza was the one armed with the knife, she should receive a stiffer sentence. Riebli asked District Judge John Bennett to impose a 15-year term.

Defense attorney Zane Todd cited Zaragoza’s lack of a criminal record and the fact that she pleaded guilty without an agreement to spare Wells from having to go through a trial. He asked for a sentence of no more than 10 years.

Wells told the judge that she didn’t believe 10 years was enough.

“I want you to know how terribly frightening it was,” she told the judge. “I pleaded with her not to hurt me.”

Before she was sentenced, Zaragoza told Wells she was sorry and said of her actions that day, “I was really bad into drugs.”

Zaragoza, who previously pleaded guilty to charges of kidnapping, aggravated robbery and attempted aggravated robbery, was given credit for the time she has served in jail since her arrest shortly after the crime.