Retrial in 2014 felony murder case begins

The attorney defending felony murder defendant Dustin Walker on Monday told jurors his client should not be found guilty in the 2014 death of Patrick Roberts because Roberts did not die during the commission of an aggravated burglary.

What jurors don’t know is that Walker was already convicted of the felony aggravated burglary at the conclusion of his first trial in February. In hearings that took place before Walker’s retrial began this week, Douglas County District Judge Paula Martin ruled jurors would not learn about Walker’s partial conviction in the case.

It took jurors nearly 12 hours to render the first partial verdict in the case. They found Walker guilty of aggravated burglary, but could not reach an agreement on the felony first-degree murder charge, which is when a killing occurs during the commission of an inherently dangerous felony.

Dustin D. Walker in Douglas County District Court during his first trial in the death of Lawrence resident Patrick Roberts.

Walker, 31, has spent two birthdays behind bars since his arrest less than an hour after the 3:10 a.m. March 8, 2014, shooting death of Roberts. Prosecutors allege Walker and co-defendant Archie Robinson forced their way into Roberts’ apartment that morning with a gun to steal cash or marijuana, and when Roberts did not cooperate, Robinson shot him.

But Walker’s attorney, Blake Glover, said Monday that evidence to be presented this week will show Walker and Robinson did not break into the apartment, but they went to the apartment to buy marijuana from Roberts, thus nullifying the felony murder charge’s underlying felony.

“It was a drug deal and something went wrong during it, but it was not a burglary or robbery,” Glover said. “Nothing was missing from that apartment.

It took attorneys about six hours Monday to select a jury panel of eight women and five men. Then opening statements were made and Roberts’ son, Michael Neis-Roberts, began his testimony.

Neis-Roberts, 18, claimed he was awakened to a knock at the door that morning, followed by banging and the door bursting open. Neis-Roberts said Walker then pointed a gun at him and Robinson and Walker entered Roberts’ bedroom. He said he heard someone say, “Where is it?” and his father respond, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Then, Neis-Roberts said, he heard the gunshot that killed his father.

Testimony will continue Tuesday. The trial is scheduled to last through Friday.

Robinson was found guilty of both aggravated robbery and first-degree murder in March. He was given a life sentence without the possibility of parole for 20 years for the crimes.

Walker remains in the Douglas County Jail.