A Douglas County judge Friday sentenced a 23-year-old former Fort Leavenworth soldier to serve one year on probation for buying cigarettes with money taken from two Kansas University students in a June 23 armed robbery on campus.
District Judge Paula Martin, following a plea agreement, ordered Brandon James Huggins to refrain from drinking alcohol while he’s on probation. Last month, Huggins pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor theft charge.
He had faced much more serious charges, including aggravated robbery and conspiracy.
After the original charges were filed, Huggins was discharged from the Army.
His attorney, Sarah Swain, said the facts prosecutors used as the basis for his plea showed that her client was not involved in the armed robbery.
The two male KU students testified at an August preliminary hearing for Huggins and co-defendant Michael Martin Gerald that two men, whose faces were covered, robbed them at gunpoint as they walked early that morning along Memorial Drive behind Snow Hall.
Gerald, a childhood friend of Huggins, has pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery and was sentenced to serve 49 months in prison. Attorneys said Gerald participated in an interview with law enforcement after the plea during which he said Huggins was not involved in the robbery.
Swain also had criticized KU police and prosecutors for not looking into the possibility — based on Gerald’s second interview with police — that a third man who was with Gerald and Huggins was involved in the robbery instead of Huggins.
A KU police detective testified in August that authorities didn’t have probable cause to arrest the third man that night based on descriptions from the victims, the man’s size and build, and clothing he was wearing.
Assistant district attorney Deborah Moody said Friday that Gerald provided more forthright information after his guilty plea and that the original charges were filed based on information investigators had immediately after the robbery.
Martin did ask Swain if Huggins, who is originally from North Carolina but has been living in the Kansas City area, could return to his post as a military police officer now that he has been convicted of a misdemeanor instead of the original charges.
Swain said it’s unlikely Huggins would appeal the decision to discharge him because he believed it was unfair Army officials kicked him out of the service while his Douglas County case was pending.
“It has taken a serious toll on him,” Swain said.