A Douglas County judge Monday said a 61-year-old man could go free after he spent more than four years in custody for a 2006 robbery of a Lawrence convenience store.
Charles E. Smith entered a no-contest plea in May to one count of robbery. Prosecutors had accused him on Nov. 25, 2006, of robbing the Presto convenience store, 2330 Iowa, by pointing something under his shirt at the clerk and making off with contents of the register. Michael Allen, an assistant district attorney, said detectives believed Smith committed the robbery so he could buy crack cocaine.
District Judge Sally Pokorny ordered Smith to serve three years on probation. Smith has already spent more than four years and five months in custody because his original sentence in the case was overturned.
The Kansas Court of Appeals later overturned a jury’s 2007 guilty robbery verdict in the case, and the Kansas Supreme Court upheld the reversal saying District Judge Jack Murphy should have appointed Smith a new attorney for the trial. Smith and his defense attorney Jim Rumsey had disagreements about strategy for the trial.
Defense attorney Elbridge Griffy said Smith missed a sentencing hearing last month while out on bond because he had gone to Mississippi to help an ailing family member. Smith said he wasn't trying to avoid the sentence and he came to Pokorny's office to turn himself in. Smith said he planned to begin Bible college next month in De Soto.