WRITER: Sara Shepherd

Shooting survivor, friend of defendant testify reluctantly at downtown Lawrence triple murder trial

Story updated at 6:54 p.m. Monday, June 17: Two reticent witnesses testified Monday morning at the murder trial of Anthony L. Roberts Jr. One of the witnesses was facing the man who allegedly shot him twice and fatally shot his cousin, to whom he crawled after the shooting but found lifeless on the sidewalk. The other witness was testifying against a relative who is facing three murder charges and one ...

‘Bullets whistling past my head’: Eyewitness testifies he saw triple murder defendant, second man shooting on Mass. Street

Updated at 6:13 p.m. Friday, June 14: Robert Wheeler was squarely at the center of the brawl that escalated to deadly gunfire on Massachusetts Street. The Topeka resident then helped police load his fatally injured cousin into a patrol car to be rushed to the hospital. He briefly talked to an officer at the hospital. But he didn’t tell police what he knew and saw until several days later, when investigators ...

'Chaos' and death on Mass Street: Witnesses at trial describe immediate aftermath of triple homicide

Story updated at 6:31 p.m. Thursday, June 13, 2019: Silence weighed over the courtroom as a young woman quietly described seeing her best friend crumple to the sidewalk after being shot, then holding her hand as she died on Massachusetts Street. Next, Courtney Germany said she called Leah Brown’s mother. “I told her there had been a shooting and that Leah got shot,” Germany said. “She asked me if Leah ...

Douglas County sheriff won't seek another term, plans to retire in 2020

Updated at 2:19 p.m. Wednesday Douglas County Sheriff Ken McGovern will retire instead of seeking reelection to a fifth term in 2020, he announced Wednesday. McGovern, 60, has worked for the sheriff’s office for 37 years and was elected sheriff, as a Republican, in 2004. He said his decision followed lengthy consideration. “After great discussion and consideration with my family, I’ve determined that I ...

Mass. Street trial begins: Prosecutors say defendant came to ‘settle a score’ and murdered 3 in melee; he argues he fired in self-defense

While hundreds of others on Massachusetts Street were just out having a good time, Anthony L. Roberts Jr. rolled into Lawrence to “settle a score,” prosecutors contended Wednesday in opening arguments at Roberts’ murder trial. Roberts, 22, of Topeka, and his friends confronted a group of other Topeka men they had “bad blood” with, Deputy District Attorney David Melton said. They started brawling. ...

Man arrested on arson charges from house fire in eastern Lawrence

A Lawrence man was arrested on suspicion of arson in connection with a fire that damaged a house in eastern Lawrence Monday afternoon. The fire was reported at 12:30 p.m. at 1405 E. 15th St. Firefighters got the blaze out quickly and said it was confined to the first floor and caused an estimated $2,500 in damage. No one was hurt. The fire was determined to be purposely set, police Sgt. Amy Rhoads said in an ...

Affidavit: Lawrence man admitted he sexually abused, showed porn to girl he babysat, starting when she was 4

Confronted after the girl told someone about the abuse, a Lawrence man admitted that he sexually abused and showed pornography to a young girl he babysat over a period of years, according to a police affidavit. He claimed he wasn’t sexually attracted to the girl, but told police that being naked, masturbating and watching porn in front of her was “exciting” because he knew it’s something he isn’t ...

Jury selection will continue for third day in Massachusetts Street murder trial

The process of choosing the people who will decide the case of Anthony L. Roberts Jr. — the Topeka man charged with three murders in the 2017 shootings on Massachusetts Street — will continue into a third day. After the second day of jury selection for the trial, about 60 potential jurors remained in the group at the end of the day Tuesday afternoon. Selection will continue Wednesday morning in Judge Sally ...

Woman said ex-football player lost video game, got mad before pointing shotgun in her face at KU dorm, affidavit says

A woman told police that a former University of Kansas football player got mad when he lost a video game and then attacked her — “strangling” her then pointing a loaded shotgun in her face — according to an affidavit. The incident occurred and 19-year-old Kenny E. Bastida was arrested in the early morning hours of May 15 at Stouffer Place Apartments, 1835 Ousdahl Road, one of KU’s on-campus housing ...

Lawrence man sexually assaulted sleeping woman after night out, affidavit alleges

After a night of heavy drinking among a small group of acquaintances, a woman went to bed with her boyfriend but awoke hours later to another man raping her, according to a police affidavit. The woman called police right after the September 2018 incident. Following an investigation that included waiting on lab results from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, 22-year-old Lawrence resident Gregory E. Esquivel ...

Massachusetts Street triple murder trial begins in Lawrence

Trial proceedings have begun in the case of the man charged with the most murders in a single incident in recent Lawrence history: the 2017 triple homicide on Massachusetts Street. Charged with three counts of murder plus one attempted murder, Anthony L. Roberts Jr., 22, of Topeka, appeared in Douglas County District Court Monday morning in a blue dress shirt and slacks, for the first day of what’s scheduled ...

KU chancellor serves on Douglas County jury

The University of Kansas chancellor reported for jury duty first thing Monday morning at Douglas County District Court — and got picked. Chancellor Douglas Girod wasn’t pulled away from his usual day job for weeks on this case, though. The defendant was charged with a single misdemeanor, a sexual battery that occurred in 2018, according to court records. And he was tried, convicted and sentenced all by ...

Fire at eastern Lawrence house under investigation

Updated story - June 11 — Man arrested on arson charges from house fire in eastern Lawrence Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical is investigating the cause of a Monday afternoon fire at an eastern Lawrence home. The fire was reported at 12:30 p.m. in a house at 1405 E. 15th St., according to a news release from Division Chief Lyle Schwartz. Firefighters arriving at the scene encountered a fire in the ...

Affidavit: Woman describes ‘scary’ experience when suspect in wild police chase barges into her house

A Lawrence woman was home by herself on a recent Saturday when a man she didn’t know suddenly came in through the back door, then grabbed her by the hair when she tried to run. The man, it turns out, was trying to hide after leading law enforcement on a car chase and then a foot chase from Clinton State Park into Lawrence, according to a police affidavit in the case. Following the incident, Justin L. ...

Affidavit: Groping of pre-teen led to child sex crime case against Lawrence man

A girl’s description of being groped for years led to high-level felony charges against a Lawrence man, a police affidavit reveals. The girl told Lawrence police detectives that the sexual abuse began when she was 12 and continued until she was 15, up until shortly before police got involved and the man was arrested and charged. Frank J. Martinez, 35, is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent ...

Gunfire hits west Lawrence apartment building

Someone fired gunshots that hit a west Lawrence apartment building overnight, Lawrence police said. About 1:15 a.m. Friday, police went to the 700 block of Monterey Way after getting multiple 911 calls from nearby residents who heard the sound of gunshots in a nearby parking lot, Officer Shawn Gross said in an email to media. When they arrived, officers found "several" empty handgun shell casings in the ...

New tally: More than a dozen Douglas County homes destroyed, nearly 30 more with major damage from tornado

Douglas County officials say they’ve now confirmed the recent tornado destroyed over a dozen homes and affected over 80 more in the county. The May 28 tornado touched down south of Lawrence and mowed through properties to the county line. It continued northeastward into Leavenworth County, where it finally lifted after being on the ground a total of nearly 32 miles and reaching EF-4 strength, according to the ...

KCMO man is 5th sent to prison for 2017 home-invasion robbery, shooting in Lawrence

The last defendant in a group of people who robbed and shot a Lawrence man in his apartment on December 2017 is headed to prison. Though he wasn’t accused of pulling the trigger, Michael R. Smith, 28, of Kansas City, Mo., was one of five people who barged into the apartment to rob the 21-year-old man. Smith was sentenced Friday to 26 months, or just over two years, in prison followed by a year of ...

Public invited to reception for retiring Douglas County District Court judge

The public is invited to a retirement reception honoring Douglas County District Court Judge Paula Martin. The reception is planned for 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, June 14, in the Douglas County Commission Room at the old courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St. Martin's announced retirement date is June 15. Martin has been on the bench 25 years, since being appointed by Gov. Joan Finney in 1994. She has presided ...

Man arrested after reportedly hitting neighbor with hatchet

A Lawrence man went to jail overnight after allegedly hitting his neighbor with a hatchet — the blunt side — police said. The two neighbors had an “ongoing dispute,” and the altercation stemmed from that, Officer Shawn Gross said, in an email. After being called by other neighbors, police responded just before 9 p.m. Wednesday to the reported fight in the 2600 block of Winterbrook Drive, Gross said. ...