Jury deliberating in case where Lawrence teen allegedly beat, threatened to kill his girlfriend

photo by: Dylan Lysen/Lawrence Journal-World

Robert Brothers Jr. listens to closing arguments in Douglas County District Court on Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021, during a trial in which he faces felony charges for allegedly beating and threatening to kill his then-girlfriend.

A jury has begun deliberating in a case in which a Lawrence teen is accused of beating his girlfriend and then threatening to kill her with a knife and a stolen gun.

The jury will decide whether to convict Robert Brothers Jr., 19, of four charges: two counts of aggravated kidnapping, one count of aggravated assault and one count of interference with law enforcement.

As the Journal-World previously reported, Brothers, who was 18 at the time, allegedly beat the woman repeatedly during two separate incidents in February until she was able to seek shelter in a Lawrence bank, where the police were contacted.

During one of the incidents, which occurred at Brothers’ home, he allegedly threatened to kill the woman because he believed she had cheated on him and had lied about it.

During closing arguments Wednesday afternoon, Deputy District Attorney Joshua Seiden said that at one point during those incidents, Brothers pointed a loaded gun in the woman’s face and was aware he could be charged with a crime for what he was doing.

Seiden quoted part of the woman’s testimony about that incident, where she recalled what Brothers reportedly told her: “I don’t care; I’ll take that charge today. I’m going to kill you.”

Meanwhile, Brothers’ attorney, Shaye Downing, argued that the charges her client was facing did not fit what had occurred. While she did not dispute that violent incidents occurred between Brothers and the woman, she said the jury should find him not guilty of the presented charges.

The trial began on Monday, and jurors will resume deliberations on Thursday morning.

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During his arguments, Seiden said evidence presented throughout the trial showed that the relationship between Brothers and the woman was abusive. He said Brothers is accused of strangling the woman, beating her and preventing her from leaving his apartment on two occasions.

Eventually, during the second incident on Feb. 10, Brothers and the woman left the apartment. They traveled to Bank Midwest, 4831 W. Sixth St., where the woman sought refuge inside. The woman testified that Brothers was mad at her for trying to go inside the bank, rather than using the bank’s drive-thru, Seiden said.

While inside, Seiden said the woman asked a bank employee to call the police, using a bruise around her eye as the reason for the call. When police arrived, an officer interviewed the woman inside the bank. Meanwhile, other officers made contact with Brothers, who was in the passenger seat of the car.

The officers testified that they asked Brothers what his name was, and that he gave a fake name. Police were about to walk away from Brothers, but one noticed that he had something in his pocket that appeared to be a firearm.

Brothers did not respond to the officers’ questions about the firearm, Seiden said. Police then apprehended Brothers and recovered the firearm, which they later determined was stolen.

Seiden also pointed to several items that police found in Brothers’ apartment pursuant to a search warrant. He said they found an HDMI cable that they believe he used to choke the woman; a knife they believe he used to threaten her; and a water bottle that they thought he used to pour water on the woman while she was sleeping.

The police also collected clothes from the woman, which were still damp from having water poured on them.

Seiden also showed several photos of the woman, who had bruising around her neck, arms and face. He argued that Brothers had inflicted the injuries with the HDMI cable, repeatedly strangling the woman and beating her with it. He also said the woman had testified that she broke free of Brothers during the first incident and attempted to leave the apartment, but that Brothers wrapped the cable around her neck and dragged her back inside.

However, Downing argued that the kidnapping charges weren’t appropriate and questioned whether the woman was ever really restrained. She said that while the photos showed injuries, they did not prove that the woman was unable to leave Brothers’ apartment.

She also said that between the two incidents, which happened about five days apart, the woman returned to Brothers’ apartment and repeatedly called him while standing outside the apartment. She said that suggested that the woman was not trying to get away from Brothers.

Downing also argued that Brothers did not commit aggravated assault with the firearm that officers found. She did not directly address the woman’s testimony that Brothers had pointed a gun in her face. But she said the woman had testified that she did not know Brothers had the gun on him when they were driving to the bank.

“She wasn’t even aware he had a gun,” Downing said.

Downing also claimed that some of the woman’s accounts of violent acts committed against her weren’t consistent. She pointed to one incident that the woman testified about in court, in which she was allegedly hit on the head with a bottle of whiskey. Downing said the woman did not originally tell police about this incident and that she didn’t mention that it had happened until she gave her testimony in court.

In his rebuttal to Downing’s arguments, Seiden said that the woman’s original account to police might not have included all of the details of the beatings because she was living through a traumatic experience.

Brothers has been in custody since February. He is being held on a $250,000 bond, according to court records, the Journal-World has reported.

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