A 20-year-old Kansas City, Kan., man pleaded no contest Monday to one count of robbery as part of a plea deal in connection with a crime spree in Lawrence a year ago.
Attorneys said they believed Michael A. Howard faces from 114 months to 128 months in prison based on his criminal history, but if he cooperates in a case against a co-defendant, Raymond Cortez Morgan, prosecutors would ask a judge to take two years off his sentence.
He originally faced two counts of aggravated robbery, one count of aggravated battery, one count of criminal possession of a firearm and one count of conspiracy. During an October preliminary hearing, prosecutors accused Howard of using a gun to rob a male KU student Dec. 28, 2010, as the KU student was walking in an alley in the 300 block of West 12th Street.Through circumstantial evidence, prosecutors also accused him of punching a 22-year-old female KU student in the face and robbing her about 1:15 a.m. Dec. 29 as she was walking in the 800 block of Tennessee Street. The woman suffered a concussion and three facial fractures.
Assistant district attorney Eve Kemple said that Howard’s no-contest plea was only for the 12th Street robbery but that Howard would give a detailed statement to a Lawrence police detective about his involvement and possibly the involvement of two co-defendants in injuring the woman.
Howard also likely will be required to register as a violent offender once he’s released from prison, and he would be required to pay about $1,000 in restitution to both victims. Defense attorney Craig Stancliffe said Howard has been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and has been taking psychiatric medication.
A co-defendant, Ashley C. Johnson, 21, also of Kansas City, Kan., has received probation in the case, and she has testified she came to Lawrence that night with Howard and Morgan, 27, also of Kansas City, Kan., to commit crimes for money. Morgan, who is charged with conspiracy to commit robbery, aggravated robbery and being a felon in possession of a firearm, has a trial scheduled for Feb. 21.
District Judge Michael Malone is scheduled to sentence Howard Feb. 24.