Two Kansas University students on Tuesday described being robbed at gunpoint early on June 23 as they were walking on Memorial Drive.
“Two men jumped out of an older Honda Accord. They both had guns, and they both yelled at us to get on the ground,” said Matthew Johnson, 22, who testified in Douglas County District Court.
Douglas County prosecutors accuse Brandon James Huggins, a 23-year-old Fort Leavenworth solider, and Michael Martin Gerald, 21, of robbing Johnson and his friend, John Tucker Allred, 22.
Both Johnson and Allred testified during Tuesday’s preliminary hearing they were walking through campus about 1 a.m. after drinking at a bar. They said as they walked in the street northwest of Strong Hall two men wearing white T-shirts with bandanas covering most of their faces ordered them onto the ground.
“I did it because they had a gun in their hands, and I feared for my life,” Allred said.
Both students said the men ordered them to remove their pants and took money from them.
Prosecutors during the hearing did not ask Johnson or Allred if they could identify either defendant as one of the alleged robbers. Both witnesses said one of the robbers was a black man and the other was a white man.
Huggins is white, and Gerald is black.
Both students also said they remembered the black man say to them, “How y’all doing tonight?” and “We’re probably the nicest guys who’ve ever robbed you.”
“It was a little weird considering what was going on,” Allred said.
Johnson alleged the white man also looked at his driver’s license at one point.
“He said ‘just try to go to the cops and see what happens,’ in a very threatening way,” Johnson said.
Johnson said after the car left he and Allred ran down toward Potter Lake and called 911. Police later stopped a vehicle in the area and arrested Huggins and Gerald, who each face two counts of aggravated robbery, one count of conspiracy to commit robbery and one count of aggravated intimidation of a victim.
During cross-examination, Sarah Swain, Huggins’ defense attorney, pointed out that in his written statement given to KU Public Safety officers Johnson did not indicate the white man had a weapon. Allred said he could not clearly recall seeing the white man with a gun but said he believed he had one.
The hearing in District Judge Paula Martin’s courtroom is scheduled to continue Aug. 2. Prosecutors have said they intend to have KU Public Safety officers who interviewed the suspects, Johnson and Allred testify.