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Archive for Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Defense attorneys ask judge to delay cases after investigators connect two December robberies

June 8, 2011

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Defense attorneys for three Wichita men accused in a December robbery of three Kansas University students at a Louisiana Street apartment want more information about the plea deal of another man before proceeding.

Statements made in court Wednesday and court documents filed reveal investigators and prosecutors had connected an alleged robbery and burglary that occurred on successive nights in December in the same apartment building, and it has created legal quibbling in several pending cases.

Attorneys for Dandre W. Williams, 20, Jerome DeShaun Tucker, 21, and Dandre M. Tomlin, 21, all of Wichita on Wednesday asked District Judge Paula Martin to delay their cases several weeks instead of accepting possible plea deals.

The three men face aggravated robbery and other charges. Prosecutors accuse them of breaking into the apartment of three female KU students early on Dec. 2 in the 1100 block of Louisiana Street and robbing them of a television and a cell phone. They were arrested three months after the incident.

According to court records, prosecutors accuse the three Wichita suspects of acting under the recruitment and direction of Michael Hammond, 20, who wanted to rob someone in the Lawrence apartment building believed to be a drug dealer. But the suspects burst in on the wrong apartment.

Hammond eventually pleaded no contest to two counts of conspiracy to commit burglary after prosecutors accused him and three other people of trying to take the job into their own hands the next night. But police interrupted the burglary in the same apartment building, and at least one of the suspects hiding in the attic fell through the ceiling in the apartment.

Attorneys who represent Williams, Tucker, Tomlin and Shelby Sprauer, 21, a defendant accused in the burglary the next night, have asked for more information about Hammond’s plea negotiations.

In a motion filed in Sprauer’s case by her attorney Tom Bath, Bath wrote that Hammond’s plea deal allowed him to face probation instead of facing more serious robbery charges in connection with the Dec. 2 incident.

According to Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson’s office, Hammond’s pleas to conspiracy to commit burglary are related to the events from both nights. Hammond is scheduled to be sentenced June 24.

District Judge Kay Huff last week declared a mistrial in Sprauer’s jury trial just before opening arguments because both sides wanted to conduct a further review of phone records, and Sprauer’s new trial on conspiracy to commit burglary and aggravated burglary is scheduled for Aug. 3.

Defense attorney Jason Billam said in court Wednesday regarding Williams’ case that he wanted to find out more information about details in Sprauer’s case and Hammond’s plea negotiations.

“The nature of his plea negotiations, who he is, what happened in that case and in that plea would go towards his bias and his credibility as the state’s witness in our case,” Billam said.

Billam also said Wednesday Williams’ criminal history has changed the dynamic of consideration of plea in his case, and Greg Robinson, a defense attorney for Tucker, said his client acknowledged he would likely face a prison sentence in the case as well if convicted.

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