Retrial for suspect in shotgun robberies, dog killing again ends in hung jury; third trial planned
For a second time, a jury has failed to agree on whether a man who allegedly wielded a shotgun and killed a dog in a string of early-morning street robberies is guilty.
A retrial for Pierre Walker, 20, ended with a hung jury Friday in Douglas County District Court, according to Jill Spurling, trial assistant for Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson.
The trial — as did Walker’s first jury trial in July — lasted a week.
Jurors began deliberating Thursday afternoon, returned to deliberations the next morning and announced their decision Friday afternoon.
A third trial for Walker has been scheduled for Jan. 22, according to the DA’s office.
Walker was charged July 11, 2016, with three counts of aggravated robbery and one count of cruelty to animals, all felonies. According to the charging document, on June 6, 2016, Walker allegedly was armed with a shotgun when he stole property from three people.
The three victims previously testified that they were out walking around 5 that morning at different locations in southwest Lawrence when they were robbed at gunpoint. In one case, one of the robbers shot and killed a dog named Phoebe as her owner was taking her for her usual morning walk.
Lawrence police said the robberies took place southeast of Hy-Vee at 3504 Clinton Parkway, near the Holcom Sports Complex at 2700 W. 27th St. and in the 1500 block of West 27th Street — where the dog was shot to death.
Three suspects in a small SUV allegedly committed the crime spree, though — between the darkness of the early hour and the sudden nature of the attacks — none of the victims was able to provide a complete description of any of the men who robbed them.
Walker is the only person who was charged in the incident, according to the DA’s office.
Lawrence police connected Walker with the robbery spree after an unrelated crime was reported in Kansas City, Kan.
Detectives testified in Walker’s first trial that items linked to the robberies were found in Walker’s Kansas City home. Those included a sawed-off shotgun, a bag containing shotgun shells matching one left by the dog’s body and one victim’s driver’s license and credit card. Prosecutor Eve Kemple said other evidence that linked Walker to the crimes included Facebook messages and a locator feature on one victim’s stolen cell phone.
Defense attorney Michael Clarke, however, argued at the first trial that there was not enough evidence to find Walker guilty. He cited, for instance, that Walker’s fingerprints were not found on the suspect vehicle, and that there was a lack of proof that Walker actually lived in the house where the aforementioned items were found.
A shotgun shell found by Phoebe’s body and the gun found in the house police identified as Walker’s were tested for fingerprints and DNA, but neither resulted in sufficient evidence to link items to a particular person, according to testimony given during the first trial by Lawrence police representatives.
Walker was arrested in July 2016 in Wyandotte County on unrelated charges. He was transferred to the Douglas County Jail in January of this year, and has been in custody here throughout both trials.