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Archive for Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Lawrence man pleads no contest to aggravated battery and criminal possession of a firearm in connection with April shooting

July 31, 2012, 10:52 a.m. Updated July 31, 2012, 12:09 p.m.

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A 27-year-old Lawrence man pleaded no contest Tuesday to aggravated battery and criminal possession of a firearm in connection with an April shooting of another Lawrence man.

William Verner was facing a trial on two attempted second-degree murder charges in the case after he was accused of shooting Chebon Chibitty, 22, in the leg and missing another man, Ryan Harjo, after an altercation early on April 1 outside an apartment in the 1300 block of Michigan Way.

Prosecutor Kathleen Britton, an assistant Douglas County district attorney, said the state had evidence that Verner used the gun to shoot Chibitty and “caused great bodily harm.” Britton said it was illegal for Verner to possess a gun because he had a drug conviction in Oklahoma in the last five years.

Harjo had testified at a May preliminary hearing that he had chased Verner away from the area that night with an ax before the shooting. He said he was upset because he had accused Verner of stealing $50 from his wife weeks earlier. Prosecutors allege Verner returned to the area later in a car and fired into a crowd, missing Harjo and hitting Chibitty, a counsin of Harjo’s wife.

According to evidence in the case, Verner alleged he was acting in self-defense, and Verner’s girlfriend had testified that he told her he shot a man who was swinging an ax at him.

District Judge Michael Malone said Tuesday that defense attorney J.C. Gilroy planned to ask for a prison sentence of five years and eight months. Malone is scheduled to sentence Verner Sept. 6.

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