Jury trials pushed out for two co-defendants, one a pro baseball player, in Lawrence aggravated robbery case

The jury trials for two Lawrence Free State High School graduates, one a minor league baseball player in the Boston Red Sox farm system, charged in a Lawrence home-invasion robbery were pushed out Thursday until May.

Gabriel Alexander Patterson, 20, and professional baseball player Cody Scott Kukuk, 21, both of Lawrence, are charged with four counts of aggravated robbery and one count of aggravated burglary in connection with a five-defendant robbery at an apartment in the 900 block of Arkansas Street on Nov. 8.

Cody Kukuk

At a preliminary hearing in December, co-defendant Zachary John Pence, 21, of Lawrence, testified that he, Patterson, Kukuk and 20-year-old Lawrence residents Driskell Alan Johnson and Yusef Muhammad Kindell disguised themselves, broke into an apartment, battered its residents and stole marijuana, cash and an Xbox.

Originally scheduled to begin in April, Patterson’s and Kukuk’s jury trials on Thursday were continued until May so that District Judge Paula Martin would have time to review the defendants’ videotaped interviews with police. The defense attorneys argue the tapes should not be admitted at trial.

On Monday, Martin begins a two-week long murder trial and said she would not have time to review the tapes before Patterson’s original April 13 trial date. Martin said she would make a ruling on the recordings’ admissibility on April 15. Kukuk’s trial was originally scheduled for April 27.

Patterson’s trial is now set to begin May 18, and Kukuk’s will begin May 11. Both trials are expected to last three days.

In exchange for his testimony, prosecutor Eve Kemple offered to drop Pence’s charges from burglary and four counts of aggravated robbery to just two charges of robbery. If convicted of the original charges, Pence could have spent up to 247 months in prison. If convicted of the new charges, Pence could receive probation. Pence is expected to make a plea on May 22.

Last week, Johnson pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated robbery. He faces 55 months to 240 months in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced May 28.

The fifth suspect, Kindell, is expected to accept a plea offer, Senior Assistant District Attorney Eve Kemple said. He is scheduled to appear next in court on May 7.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office refused to release the booking mugs of the defendants in the case.