Archive for Friday, June 7, 2013

Lawrence man charged with stealing motorist’s eyeglasses in road rage incident

June 7, 2013


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Douglas County prosecutors have charged a 48-year-old Lawrence man with robbery after he allegedly attacked a fellow motorist during a road rage incident Thursday afternoon, striking the victim and stealing his eyeglasses.

The victim reported to police that he became involved in a confrontation with the driver of a white van while traveling west in the 500 block of west 19th Street about 6 p.m. Thursday, said Kim Murphree, a Lawrence Police Department spokeswoman. Angered at how close the white van was following him, the victim "made a gesture" at the other driver, Murphree said. When the vehicles were stopped, the driver of the van stepped out and approached the victim in his car.

The victim told police that the driver of the van struck him with the palm of his hand, grabbed the eyeglasses from his face, walked back to the van and drove away.

Police arrested John Brian Crawford about two hours later in the 2700 block of Louisiana Street. He was booked into Douglas County Jail, where he remained Friday as Douglas County prosecutors charged him with robbery. Bond in the case was set at $10,000, and Crawford is scheduled to appear in court again on June 13. It was not clear Friday if Crawford had yet hired an attorney.

If convicted of felony robbery, Crawford could face between 55 months and 20 years in prison, depending on his criminal history.


Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years, 9 months ago

Stole his glasses...? That is...bizarre....

Thomas Christie 4 years, 9 months ago

And a former KU law student gets 4 months for manslaughter? What the hell is wrong with our legal system?

Linda Endicott 4 years, 9 months ago

That seems a little strange to me, too...

Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years, 9 months ago

Our legislators mucked around with the sentencing grid to prevent judges from using discretion to be too lenient....

ebyrdstarr 4 years, 9 months ago

Probably because one mid-level felony charge for this incident is enough?

Food_for_Thought 4 years, 9 months ago

Because the crime of robbery has the requirement of using force/threat of force (i.e., assault and/or battery, depending on the circumstances). In other words, charging a person of assault AND robbery is redundant. Besides, Assault is a misdemeanor, whereas robbery is a felony.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 4 years, 9 months ago

I agree, he should have been charged with battery as well as theft.

ebyrdstarr 4 years, 9 months ago

Robbery incorporates the battery and the theft into one crime so both the physical contact and the taking are covered. If he had been charged with just battery and theft, that would have been two misdemeanor charges. I'm pretty sure that wouldn't have satisfied those of you complaining about the charging decision.

PhilChiles 4 years, 9 months ago

Suspect was described as a blurry male, somewhere between 5 and 7 feet tall; possibly Caucasian, or Asian, or Latino.

Clickker 4 years, 9 months ago

John needs to keep it on the Basketball court, and out of the criminal courts!

Smarmy_Schoolmarm 4 years, 9 months ago

I wonder if this was the same guy who, about a year ago, got out of his car, approached the car in front of him, took the driver's hat off and slapped her with it? I can't find the link to the article but would love to see if it is him.

ebyrdstarr 4 years, 9 months ago

I don't think expressing displeasure that the driver behind you is driving too closely really counts as starting an incident.

Linda Endicott 4 years, 9 months ago

I suppose that hand gesture could been seen as provoking somone...gee, I give hand gestures all the time when I drive...but they're safely under the dash, where the other drivers can't see sense in riling someone else never know what they'll do...

Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years, 9 months ago

Now you know: They'll roundhouse you and take your specs.

costello 4 years, 9 months ago

"I suppose that hand gesture could been seen as provoking somone"

That's true, but tailgating could be seen as provoking the hand gesture. And maybe the guy in front was driving slowly, which could be seen as provoking the tailgating.

And maybe the guy in front was driving slowly, because his wife had nagged him about driving too fast. And the guy in back was in a hurry, because his boss told him he'd be fired if he was late again. So, ultimately the people at fault are the wife and the boss. :-)

I guess the upshot is don't punch people and steal their glasses. If they flip you off, you can flip them off in return. Or do what my nephew suggests: smile and wave. Maybe they'll wonder if you know them from somewhere and feel a bit ashamed.

jafs 4 years, 9 months ago

Well, giving someone the finger is provocative, don't you think?

Not that it justifies this sort of reaction, or lets the guy off the hook for it.

But, generally speaking, if you don't do provocative things, you can save yourself a world of trouble and unpleasantness.

ebyrdstarr 4 years, 9 months ago

But if we're going to talk about who was provocative first, driving too closely behind me is actually threatening. As a driver, I take steps if I think the driver behind me is too close for comfort. Me responding by making a gesture with my hands is less so. The vehicle can hurt me. Me waving my hands in the safety of my own car can't hurt the other driver.

jafs 4 years, 9 months ago

Sure, that's true.

Do you often give people the finger if they're following too closely? I don't. There are other ways to deal with that situation. What do you do?

Jeanette Kekahbah 4 years, 9 months ago

uh tell me how wonderful the world would be by letting drivers crawl up your there's no such thing as rear end collision...

jafs 4 years, 9 months ago

So, you think that if somebody's following you too closely, the right thing to do is give them the finger?

Doesn't seem to have worked out well here - my guess is that it often doesn't work out well.

What do you do in that situation?

bad_dog 4 years, 9 months ago

I hold up an open-palmed hand with all five fingers extended and move it repeatedly from front to back. I'm saying, in essence; "back off, you're too close for me". Most folks acknowledge the gesture and back off. Tapping the brake pedal lightly; just enough to actuate the brake lights works too.

The most folks that tailgate me are on K-10. When I can't see your headlights at 70 mph, you're too freakin' close. Chronic tailgating on K-10. It looks more like a NASCAR event than responsible driving.

ebyrdstarr 4 years, 9 months ago

I'm with bad dog. Which is why I'm not willing to assume the hand gesture made by the driver was necessarily the finger. I don't make that hand gesture, but I do wave. Remember back in the day when we could flip on headlights to make the back lights come on so it might look like your brakes were coming on? That doesn't work anymore with all these darn safety advancements.

Bad dog, you would have loved the guy who was following me on 24/40 at 11 pm last weekend. 65 mph curvy road and I couldn't see his headlights for miles. I was slowing down, tapping the brakes. Nothing worked. Then he finally passed me in a no-passing zone on a blind curve with a hill. There would have been nothing I could have done to avoid the collision if someone had been coming in the other lane. I feel confident that driver was flipping me off as he passed me, though, as clearly I was in his way. (Freakin' idiot still got stopped at the light north of Lawrence just like I did, so that reckless move was obviously worth it.)

bad_dog 4 years, 9 months ago

Sounds like you missed an opportunity to slap & grab at the stop light, ebyrd ;-)

William Enick 4 years, 9 months ago

Bet he was going 10 miles under speed limit...

Linda Endicott 4 years, 9 months ago

Even if he was, it doesn't really give the van driver the right to smack someone and take their glasses...

bad_dog 4 years, 9 months ago

The speed limit is a limit, not a minmum requirement.

Terry Sexton 4 years, 9 months ago

Further evidence that tailgaters are horrible, horrible people.

Kat Christian 4 years, 9 months ago

This is just crazy...what is wrong with people? For one thing people need to be accentuated way when they get their driver's license that Driving is a Privilegde not a Right. Also if a person commite road rage once they should have only a conditional license, but if they commit it again then their license should be revoked for a year and if they do a road rage again their license should be revoked forever. I just believe in 3 strikes and you're OUT concept. However, I grew up on the East Coast and they drive fast and crazy, but since I've moved out here I have actually learned to slow it down and enjoy my driving, only sometimes I get the tail gater which only makes me slow down a bit so if an when they plow into me I'm not going as fast so I don't hit someone else, but at the same time encourage them to slow down too. Yes I"ve had a few finger gestures pointed at me, but I just laugh at the ignorance of it all. Obviously people who do this have very little brains to think of a more intelligent way of dealing with traffic frustration which isn't always the other person at fault. Remember driving is a priviledge NOT A RIGHT so respect it, use it respectually and leave in time to get you where you need to go so you don't become stressed out and want to blame the other person.

Lawrence Morgan 4 years, 9 months ago

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gccs14r 4 years, 9 months ago

Windows up, doors locked. It's much more difficult for a perp to jack you that way.

Robert Wells 4 years, 9 months ago

You got to love Kansas. 10,000 fine. 55 months to 20 years for A slap and removal of sunglasses. A 325 lb sex afender, murder of a nine year old boy is about to walk. Is there not enough bullets to go round? Sunglasses are a irreplaceable object I suppose. May God have mercy on us all. I am actively looking for another planet to live on.

Smarmy_Schoolmarm 4 years, 9 months ago

How do you know he's about to walk??? I wish I had ESPN too.

Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years, 9 months ago

Don't overstate the situation. The gentleman from the other story is not about to walk. He's only up for a parole review. I'm confident his parole will be denied.

Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years, 9 months ago

I don't think that pulling a weapon would have made the situation any better, toe....

ksjayhawk74 4 years, 9 months ago

You don't think someone taking your glasses justifies them being shot to death? What are you? Some sort of reasonable, level-headed person?

oskiegirl 4 years, 9 months ago

Why didn't the victim just drive off, instead of waiting for the guy to confront him? That would have been to easy right. Did he really think he was walking up to his car to play nice?

deec 4 years, 9 months ago

Possibly a stop light, cross traffic or another vehicle in front of them.

Liberty275 4 years, 9 months ago

"the victim "made a gesture" at the other driver"

Silver lining - he probably learned his lesson. You never know who is in the other car and if they are unstable enough to fight over sucjh a petty matter.

As for putting someone in jail for stealing sunglasses and slapping someone with an open hand, put me on that jury. Anything over 6 months of probation and there will be a mistrial.

costello 4 years, 9 months ago

They don't tell the jury what the likely sentence will be. The jury's job is to decide if the guy did what he's accused of, not to decide the punishment.

Liberty275 4 years, 9 months ago

Doesn't the jury also do the sentencing?

ebyrdstarr 4 years, 9 months ago

No. In Kansas, the jury only has a sentencing role in death penalty cases.

Ian_Cummings 4 years, 9 months ago

No. Sentencing guidelines written by the Legislature dictate a range of sentences for felony offenses in the state of Kansas. A prison sentence is determined by the type of offense and the offender's criminal history. Ian Cummings, LJW.

Liberty275 4 years, 9 months ago

Thanks for the replies. I think it was different in FL. Anyway. I still get to say "innocent" or "guilty", and if I think the charges have a punishment that is not appropriate, it will be innocent. Mistrial either way.

I might accept a 10 day jail timeout in this case and a year of probation and counseling if the guy has no previous record of violence. Anything more is out of line and a bit fishy.

I've been slapped and I've had things stolen, and if I was the defendant and I heard 55 months, I'd develop amnesia. I refuse to help put a man behind bars for years because of a lapse in judgement that ended in an assault of such magnitude. Once again, that is if the man has no record of violence.

jafs 4 years, 9 months ago

If you did that on a jury, you'd be way out of line.

Your job is to determine the facts, not whether or not you think the sentence will be appropriate. If you find sentencing inappropriate, the remedy would be to lobby your legislators to change them.

Liberty275 4 years, 9 months ago

"If you did that on a jury, you'd be way out of line."

That's exactly what juries are for.

"Your job is to determine the facts"

No, juries determine guilt (and sometimes sentencing). Who are you to determine any decision by a juror is "way out of line"?

Topple 4 years, 9 months ago

That's what jafs is saying. In determining facts, they are determining truth, and guilt. Go away, fly.

jafs 4 years, 9 months ago

When you say that your thoughts on the sentence would affect your deliberations as to the facts, you're out of line.

"If I think the charges have a punishment that is not appropriate, it will be innocent"

That's not what you're supposed to be doing - you're supposed to be judging the facts of the case. Your vote should be based on that, not your opinion of sentencing guidelines.

Those facts don't change with different sentences, right? So, your decision as to the facts shouldn't change with those.

And, actually, to be more accurate, juries are supposed to determine whether or not prosecutors have proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt, not guilt/innocence. One can believe that a defendant is guilty, but that the prosecution didn't prove it, in which case one should vote for acquittal. In a civil case, juries are supposed to determine by a "preponderance of the evidence" rather than "reasonable doubt".

Many people don't seem to understand their role as jurors, which is a problem. One juror in a trial that I was also on the jury said they didn't prove anything "beyond a reasonable doubt", even though it was a civil case, and that wasn't the correct standard to apply.

I'm nobody special, but I do understand a little bit about these issues, and I understand that as a juror it's not my job to change my determination based on my opinion about sentencing issues. In fact, if I do that, I'm not doing my job right.

ebyrdstarr 4 years, 9 months ago

Actually, there is the concept of jury nullification, which jurors are well within their rights to employ.

While I agree with most of your comment, Jafs, and appreciate your frustration with jurors who don't follow the instructions properly, Liberty isn't wrong to say that as a juror, s/he could or would refuse to convict someone based on the idea that the corresponding penalty would be too steep. The jury instructions instruct that a jury MUST acquit a defendant if the state hasn't proved its case, but the language for conviction if the state proved its case is only permissive, not mandatory. Oddly, though, while courts have recognized jurors have the right to engage in nullification, the defense is not allowed to inform the jury of this.

onehotmomma 4 years, 9 months ago

May seem harsh on the surface, but what would stop him from doing the same thing to the person in front of him at Dillons? Or if a child was annoying him? Clerk to slow at checking you out? Reach out and slap her?

Keep your hands to yourself.

Jeanette Kekahbah 4 years, 9 months ago

oh hey phelps is within his rights to picket funerals, promote hate speech and make accusations about sexual orientation which is really not anyone's beeswax anyway...and yet now flipping the bird to an inconsiderate driver who feels entitled to ride your bumper deserves blame and 'probably learned his lesson' oh yeah silver lining...kansas style. tailgate me any time...i don't take putting me, my passengers or my personal property in unsafe situations as petty...and have zero tolerance for that kind of stupidity.

Liberty275 4 years, 9 months ago

"hate speech"

protected speech <--- fixed.

"i don't take putting me"

What would you do about a guy following to closely? What exactly is your "zero tolerance" stance? Let's have some detail.

SofaKing 4 years, 9 months ago

Lawrence police are a little overzealous in my opinion. Jail? Really?

Topple 4 years, 9 months ago

He hit the person and stole their glasses. That deserves a ticket?

ebyrdstarr 4 years, 9 months ago

Maybe it's not the best idea to advertise in advance your intention to use excessive force. A concealed carry permit is not a license to kill.

Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years, 9 months ago

neworleans, please tell me that you wouldn't kill a person who was stealing your eyeglasses. The use of lethal force does not strike me as a reasonable to the attempted theft of eyewear, even if they are particularly expensive.

bad_dog 4 years, 9 months ago

The victim in this case was allegedly slapped with the palm and the glasses taken from his face in quick succession. Chances are good it happens so quickly you wouldn't clear leather before the perpetrator departs. Deadly force is not justifiable to prevent theft of property. Are you going to brandish a firearm if someone approaches your car?

Better drive with your Glock in your lap. You know, just in case. No matter how an incident like this transpires, chances are good anyone that responds in the manner you describe will wind up as a defendant in Criminal Court.

Jean Robart 4 years, 9 months ago

More importantly---did the victim get his glasses back? Did he get stopped again--this time by a cop, and ticketed for not wearing them? And are they being held as evidence?

been_there 4 years, 9 months ago

Glasses can be very expensive. In my case it would take $1,000 to replace plus 6 to 8 weeks, but mine are specialized for a specific problem. Even so, a normal pair with an exam can run $200 to $400 plus a two week wait during which your activities are limited. Everyone keeps saying it was just a slap and just a pair of glasses like they were a pair off the $8 rack.

Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years, 9 months ago

been_there, I understand how expensive glasses can be. Mrs. Out_Loud needs glasses that cost over $800 each time we replace them. Although I can't speak for "everyone" whom you mention in your post, I can speak for myself. (And, although she hates it when I speak for her, I will also speak for Mrs. Out_Loud.) What I AM NOT saying is that prescription lenses are like $8 reading glasses from Walgreens. What I AM saying is that a pair of eyeglasses, no matter how expensive, are not worth shooting another person over.

been_there 4 years, 9 months ago

Totally agree, sorry if I gave the impression otherwise.

redneck 4 years, 9 months ago

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bearded_gnome 4 years, 9 months ago

maybe use of force isn't appropriate for preventing a robbery?


and, it isn't appropriate for preventing an assault?

at the point when perp reaches into your car, how do you know just what his intent is at that point?

you have no way of knowing that all he wants to do is lift your eyeglasses! for all you know he may have intensions on snapping your neck like a chicken!

I'm glad for the harsh charging, and don't just blame the PD, for a change the DA is not so weak.

if this dude is walking around with this kinda explosive anger problem, who knows what would've been the next event.

ebyrdstarr 4 years, 9 months ago

Use of force needs to be appropriate for the circumstances. Excessive force, aka deadly force where not necessary, doesn't get you covered under self-defense.

So if you run around on public message boards indicating that your initial response to an act you perceived as aggressive would always be to pull out your gun and shoot, you're giving the prosecution ammo to argue that your response in the actual situation was not based on the circumstances as they occurred but was rather a pre-determined response. That would not help a self-defense argument.

ksjayhawk74 4 years, 9 months ago

"Use of force needs to be appropriate for the circumstances. Excessive force, aka deadly force where not necessary, doesn't get you covered under self-defense. "...Unless you live in Texas, then you get to shoot someone just for looking at you funny. In Texas, you can kill an escort if she won't have sex with you, despite the fact that prostitution is illegal and threatening someone for not having sex with you is sexual assault.

jafs 4 years, 9 months ago

That's a very weird thing.

Use of deadly force is ok to retrieve stolen property at night?! She took his money, didn't have sex with him, and wouldn't return it.

The argument is that he was retrieving his stolen property (the money) at night.

Topple 4 years, 9 months ago

The problem here is we're discussing this in hind-sight. If, at the time of the robbery, the driver thought the perpetrator was going to begin punching them in the face, and shot the man, who's to say they weren't justified? Because he only took the glasses and smacked the victim, we can, in hind-sight, say deadly force wasn't required.

As soon as the man breached the vehicle, it was no different from forced entry into your home. I wouldn't take that lightly. Not to say I would have shot the man, but if you flipped him off, it's unlikely he's coming to have a civil conversation with you. To the victim: Don't flip someone off and be surprised when the encounter escalates. After all, you escalated it from tailgating, to road rage by flipping him off. He escalated it from road rage to a physical confrontation.

Also, I thought that police officers could cite drivers for inciting/displaying road rage, but I couldn't find any statutes on the issue.

Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years, 9 months ago

Don't rephrase what I said, gnome. I said that attempted theft of eyewear would probably not justify the use of LETHAL force. Not if some dude slapped you with an open hand and took your glasses from you. If you have to pay a lawyer good money to explain to twelve people like me why you felt an open-handed slap and the theft of glasses justified the use of lethal will probably spend more money and time in your defense than it would have taken to simply replace the glasses.

Topple 4 years, 9 months ago

You'd only have to explain that if you shot him after he was leaving. If you shot him while he was reaching into the car/touching your face, you'd have to explain why you thought deadly force was necessary to stop what he was doing. There would be no "he slapped the victim, took their glasses, and left" part of the story, because he'd be shot before the leaving part occurred and we could only speculate as to how far the "robber" would escalate the confrontation that the "robber" initiated.

bad_dog 4 years, 9 months ago

I hope you enjoy explaining yourself in Court. You (the defendant) flipped someone off for tailgating, then shot them when they reached into your car. Sounds like "overkill" to me. Why not roll the window up, lock the door and ignore them/call 911 if you feel threatened?

You stated it rather succinctly above: "... you'd have to explain why you thought deadly force was necessary to stop what he was doing." I would never want to be in the position where I had to provide that explanation. I don't want law enforcement or a jury to need to speculate. It had better be obvious why you did so, IMHO. From the perspective of reasonableness, is it reasonable to expect you need to use deadly force when someone reacts to a perceived (or actual) insult? If that person approaches with a weapon in hand, probably so. Otherwise...


Topple 4 years, 9 months ago

I'm not saying shooting him is an appropriate response, I'm just saying you made poor assumptions. You're speaking as though the victims response to the above incident would have been to shoot him after the entire incident occurred. (He stole my glasses and slapped me, now I'm going to shoot him.) It stands to reason if the victim shot the robber, they would have done so during the confrontation, in which case they could claim self defense as the robber came to their window and battered the victim in the face. Chasing him down afterward and shooting him would be murder, plainly.

jafs 4 years, 9 months ago

Not sure that's right either.

In order to claim self defense, one has to have a reasonable fear for one's life. Being slapped in the face doesn't generate that, in my opinion.

At home, if somebody breaks in, the law allows you to assume your life is in danger.

And, "stand your ground" laws seem to allow you to use deadly force if you "feel threatened".

But, traditional self defense claims rest on reasonable fear for one's life, and sometimes that the only option is to use deadly force. Generally speaking, we don't want somebody who gets into a bar fight to pull out a gun and kill somebody else.

The idea would be that deadly force isn't something we want used a lot, but only when necessary.

HoneyBadger1 4 years, 9 months ago

I got to admit that I cheered when he assaulted Steve Stiponovich during the Kansas-Missouri basketball game a few years ago.. They didn't arrest him then...I think he got a techenical foul though and Ted Owens sat him down for a spell.....

Steve Jacob 4 years, 9 months ago

Probation is all he will get...if record is clean.

purplesage 4 years, 9 months ago

It would be petty theft if eyeglasses didn't cost 10X what they ought to; they ought to arrest the optometrist or optician every time they gouge somebody for $500 for what shout only cost $50.

ebyrdstarr 4 years, 9 months ago

Theft of an item that costs $500 is still the lowest level of theft, a misdemeanor.

geekin_topekan 4 years, 9 months ago

Where in this article does it say SUNglasses? He stole the guy's eyeglasses, a prosthesis! Wouldn't that equate stealing a man's wheelchair or a blind man's cane?

this_guy 4 years, 9 months ago

Ok people are quick to say what's right and wrong if you are willing to yell and scream at people when you haven't any clue how the day is going or if they just returned from WAR a iraqi War Veteran we are taught to react and not to think and hand gestures can be taken as a theat sometimes you just don't know.what they are willing to do when provoked

bad_dog 4 years, 9 months ago

1) You are not in a war zone. Nevertheless, thank you for your service.

2) An obscene gesture does not constitute provocation sufficient to elicit acts of violence or attempts to intimidate in response.

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