After two hung juries, prosecutors to try felony murder case a third time
After two juries in 2015 could not agree whether a defendant was guilty in the March 2014 shooting death of a Lawrence man, the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday that it would seek a third trial.
The defendant, Dustin D. Walker, 31, of Lawrence, is accused of killing Patrick Roberts, 39, during the commission of an aggravated burglary.
Assistant Douglas County District Attorneys Amy McGowan and Deborah Moody alleged that Walker and co-defendant Archie Robinson kicked the door into Roberts’ Lawrence home around 3 a.m. on March 8, 2014, pointed a handgun at Roberts’ son and entered Roberts’ bedroom to steal cash or marijuana. Walker then allegedly shot Roberts during the crime.
But defense attorney Blake Glover argued that Walker and Robinson did not break into the apartment but went there to buy marijuana from Roberts, thus nullifying the felony murder charge’s underlying felony of aggravated burglary. Aggravated burglary is when one forces his way into a home without permission while armed, but if Walker and Robinson were welcomed to the home to purchase marijuana, it would not be an aggravated burglary.
Walker, 31, was already convicted of an aggravated burglary charge at his first trial in February, but those jurors could not agree on the felony murder charge. Jurors in his retrial two weeks ago for the felony murder charge were not allowed to hear about the disposition of the first trial.
It took the retrial jurors on Nov. 20 about five and a half hours of deliberations to conclude they could not reach a unanimous decision. It took the jurors in Walker’s first trial 12 hours to reach their partial decision.
In March, the jury in the case of Walker’s co-defendant, Robinson, took just one hour to convict him of both aggravated burglary and felony murder. Robinson, Walker’s cousin, was given a life sentence without the possibility of parole for 20 years.
Walker has yet to be sentenced for his aggravated burglary conviction.
Counting his first and second mistrials in the Roberts’ case, Friday marked the fourth time Walker has not been convicted in a case involving a shooting. Another jury acquitted him in 2011 on charges connected to his alleged role in a December 2010 shooting at South Pointe Apartments, 2310 W. 26th St. In that case Walker was charged with attempted second-degree murder and possessing a firearm as a felon after Darrick Dew was shot during a large party at an apartment.
In 2008, Walker was suspected in a robbery at a Lawrence apartment that resulted in a man being shot in the leg. But in 2011, Douglas County prosecutors dismissed the case before it went to trial. Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson said afterward that both the victim and witness were unable to recall the incident, precluding prosecutors from pursuing the case.
Walker remains in the Douglas County Jail. Robinson is currently serving his sentence in Ellsworth Correctional Facility, according to the Kansas Department of Corrections.
Walker’s third jury trial is scheduled for March 7-11, 2016.