Two years after 39-year-old Patrick Roberts was shot to death inside his Lawrence duplex, a jury has found Dustin Walker, 31, guilty of the crime.
Walker’s trial — his third in connection with Roberts’ death — began on Monday, and on Friday he was found guilty of a single count of first-degree felony murder, which is a killing committed during the commission of a felony.
Walker was accused of breaking into Roberts’ duplex in the early-morning hours of March 8, 2014, with another man, Archie Robinson, to steal marijuana and money. During the incident, police say, Walker shot and killed Roberts.
During Walker’s first trial in February 2015, he faced charges of felony murder and aggravated burglary, which was the underlying felony. He was found guilty of the aggravated burglary, but the jury could not reach a decision on felony murder.
In December 2015, Walker faced a felony murder charge again. Once more, the jury failed to come to a unanimous decision.
Robinson, meanwhile, was found guilty of both first-degree murder and aggravated burglary in Roberts’ death during his own trial in March of 2015. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 20 years.
Throughout the week attorneys focused heavily on the underlying felony of aggravated burglary, a required element to the felony murder charge.
Prosecuting attorneys CJ Rieg and Amy McGowan argued that Walker and Robinson forced their way into Roberts’ duplex to steal from him, but defense attorney Blake Glover argued they went there to buy marijuana and that Roberts’ death was the result of a “drug deal gone bad.”
Testimony throughout the week showed that Walker had been in Roberts’ duplex, where Roberts lived with his mother, brother and son.
Marilyn Howard, Wayne Roberts and Michael Neis-Roberts — Roberts’ mother, brother and son, respectively — told jurors that Roberts did indeed sell marijuana, but that Walker forced his way inside rather than stopping by to make a purchase.
Police and forensic scientists told jurors that both Robinson and Walker were arrested in the area of Roberts’ home shortly after the shooting. Both had Roberts’ blood on their clothing, according to testimony.
Prosecuting attorneys showed jurors a video of Walker’s interviews with Lawrence Police Detective Jamie Lawson shortly after his arrest. During that interview, Walker described Roberts’ duplex as an “in and out house” and said he fell asleep there around 1:30 a.m. and was awakened when someone “burst” through the door and a “struggle” ensued.
Asia Morrison, Walker’s girlfriend at the time of the incident and the mother of two of his children, told jurors she bought a Ruger 9mm handgun less than a month before the crime. Morrison, of Topeka, said she and Walker decided she would buy the gun for self protection.
The day of the shooting, after she was contacted by police about the crime, she reported the gun missing.
Forensic scientists with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation told jurors the bullet that killed Roberts did indeed come from Morrison’s gun, which was also found at the scene.
When Robinson and Walker were arrested that night, police told jurors they found no stolen drugs, money or electronics on them.
During closing statements, Rieg told jurors the evidence, when taken together, showed that Walker’s actions met the elements of aggravated burglary.
Walker, Rieg said, entered Roberts’ duplex without permission, while others were there and with the intent to commit a theft.
Glover, the defense attorney, said in his closing statement that the prosecution’s case was incomplete and presented “evidence that’s filled with assumptions and speculations” and required jurors to “fill in the gaps.”
“It’s simply not good enough,” he said to the jury.
After more than three hours of deliberation, the jury returned to the courtroom and delivered the verdict.
Walker sat in silence as Douglas County District Judge Paula Martin pronounced the finding of guilt. Shortly thereafter, he was handcuffed and led from the room.
Glover said of Walker, “I’d imagine he will be appealing.”
Martin ordered a pre-sentence investigation for Walker and scheduled his sentencing for 10 a.m. April 29.
Walker has multiple prior convictions within Douglas County. In 2008 he was convicted for aggravated burglary, and he was convicted of two charges in relation to operating a vehicle while intoxicated and fleeing a law enforcement officer in 2012.
Walker was also acquitted on charges connected to his alleged role in a December 2010 shooting at Southpointe Apartments, 2310 W. 26th St., in 2011. He faced charges of attempted second-degree murder and possessing a firearm as a felon after Darrick Dew was shot during a large party.
Walker was also suspected in a 2008 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 afterword that both the victim and witness were unable to recall the incident, which stopped them from pursuing the case.
More coverage of Dustin Walker's third murder trial
● March 7, 2016 — Jury selected for Dustin Walker's third trial in 2014 slaying