Walker felony murder retrial: Closing arguments scheduled for Friday
Jurors will likely be handed the case Friday in the retrial of Dustin D. Walker, who is charged with felony murder in the March 2014 shooting death of 39-year-old Lawrence resident Patrick Roberts.
Prosecutors and the defense are set to begin closing arguments Friday morning in Walker’s retrial. Assistant Douglas County District Attorneys Amy McGowan and Deborah Moody allege that Walker and co-defendant Archie Robinson kicked the door into Roberts’ 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.
Walker, 31, was already convicted of the aggravated robbery charge at his first trial, but those jurors could not agree on the felony murder charge. Jurors on his retrial for the felony murder were not allowed to hear about the disposition of the first trial.
To prove their theory, prosecutors called Roberts’ son, brother and mother, Walker’s ex-girlfriend, Kansas Bureau of Investigation forensic scientists and law enforcement officials to testify.
Roberts’ family testified that after they heard the fatal gunshot go off, Roberts’ brother ran to Roberts’ room and tackled Walker. During the tussle, a second gunshot went off, striking the ceiling, and Robinson allegedly came to Walker’s aid. The co-defendants then ran off, but were captured shortly after wearing clothing splotched with blood, which KBI forensic analyst Amanda Misencik testified matched Roberts’ DNA.
But defense attorney Blake Glover argues 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.
On Wednesday, Lawrence Police Detective Zachariah Thomas showed jurors evidence to suggest that Roberts was a marijuana dealer. A safe inside the room held two glass jars full of marijuana, which Thomas described as “more than a personal amount.”
Glover’s theory matches testimony Walker gave at his first trial. Walker said then that he had called Roberts that fatal morning, and Roberts said to come over. Upon arrival, Walker said he knocked on Roberts’ unlocked front door and heard Roberts say “come in.” Walker said he’d known Roberts for about seven months before his death and that he visited Roberts at his home to buy marijuana “plenty of times.”
“Not on an everyday basis, but I’d go over there to buy marijuana, and sometimes I’d sit and smoke with him,” Walker said in February.
But Walker initially told a different story to Lawrence Police Detective Jaime Lawson about three hours after the incident. Walker then claimed he had been sleeping at Roberts’ home when he woke up to a gunshot and struggle. At his last trial, Walker admitted to jurors that he had lied to the detective.
The trial is expected to end Friday, then jurors will deliberate. It took the jurors in Walker’s first trial 12 hours to reach their partial decision, but Robinson’s jury took just one hour to convict him of both aggravated burglary and felony murder. Robinson was given a life sentence without the possibility of parole for 20 years.
This is the third time Walker has been accused in 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. 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.