A 31-year-old Topeka man testified in court today about exactly what happened in a June 1 incident at a Lawrence McDonald's that was first reported as a shooting and later described by investigators as a drug-related robbery.
Jon Crawford explained that he was at the McDonald's to sell two pounds of K2, a synthetic marijuana product, to one of the defendants when some of the others charged in the case tried to rob him at gunpoint.
Four other Topeka men face charges in connection with the incident, which was first reported to police as a shooting about 3 p.m. on June 1, in the parking lot of McDonald's, 4911 W. Sixth St. The four appeared in Douglas County District Court today for a preliminary hearing, in which Douglas County prosecutors presented evidence in an effort to move the case to trial. Prosecutors have charged some of the men, who were arrested days after the incident, with drug offenses, and others with aggravated robbery.
Anthony Foster, 30, of Minneapolis, Kan., has been charged with attempting to buy synthetic marijuana. Jesse J. Forbes, 38, of Topeka, has been charged with aggravated robbery and an attempt to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance. Justin Alcorn, 29, of Topeka, was originally charged as a conspirator in the alleged drug deal and now is charged with burglary.
Mario A. King, 34, of Topeka, has been charged with aggravated assault, criminal possession of a firearm, a misdemeanor count of unlawfully seizing a vehicle, and two felony drug counts related to an alleged attempt to buy synthetic marijuana. He is on parole after spending nearly three years in Kansas prisons for killing a 20-year-old man in Topeka in 2008.
Crawford, who was granted immunity from state and federal prosecution to testify, told the court today that Foster had called him on June 1 asking to buy three pounds of K2, a drug that first appeared in Lawrence in 2009 and that has since been criminalized as a controlled substance by the federal government.
Crawford said he agreed to sell Foster three pounds of K2 for $2,800, but was only able to bring about two pounds with him. When he arrived at the McDonald's parking lot, as agreed, he found Foster with King, who pulled a .44-caliber gun from his waistband and tried to rob Crawford.
Crawford said he and King struggled over the gun. "It seemed like forever," he said. In the scuffle, Crawford heard a loud "smack" and found his hand was injured as he ran away. He thought he had been shot in the hand and reported that to the police. Later, medics found that he had not been shot, but had suffered a minor injury to his hand.
When police arrived, the four defendants were gone, and so was the K2, Crawford said. "I assume one of the defendants took it," he said.
Douglas County District Judge Kay Huff continued the preliminary hearing to Friday to review the laws governing new controlled substances such as K2. The four defendants remained in Douglas County Jail today and are scheduled to appear in court again Friday, when the judge will decide what, if any, charges the prosecution can proceed to trial with.