DA dismisses charges against 5 men accused of stealing alcohol at gunpoint at south Lawrence apartment complex
photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World
The Douglas County District Attorney’s Office dismissed burglary and robbery charges on Thursday after a preliminary hearing for five men who were accused of breaking into an apartment in south Lawrence and taking liquor and beer at gunpoint.
The men, Malachi Samuel Thomas, 22; Trevon Andrew Anderson, 19; Isaiah Jawone Mabry, 21; Blake William Brown, 21; and Nasir Rahman Ali Penny, 20, were each charged with one count of aggravated burglary and three counts of aggravated robbery, according to charging documents. Each was given a $60,000 bond. All of the men are from Lawrence, except Brown and Penny, who are from Leavenworth.
The charges are in connection with an incident on June 28, 2022, when the men were alleged to have entered an apartment at The Reserve apartment complex, 2511 W. 31st St., without permission and to have used a handgun to rob the apartment’s three occupants of their liquor and beer.
At the hearing on Thursday, the first witness called by the state, Casey Rhoades, said that he was in the apartment when some men entered, flipped over the coffee table and started damaging other things in the apartment before taking some beer and leaving.
Rhoades said he was armed at the time of the incident and had a Sig Sauer 9mm pistol ready when the men came in. Rhoades claimed to be trained in firearms in a militia in Missouri. When asked by Assistant District Attorney Ricardo Leal why he didn’t use the gun when the men entered the apartment despite fearing for his life, Rhoades said, “I couldn’t live with that on my conscience.”
Leal asked Rhoades if he could identify the man who first walked in and flipped the coffee table; Rhoades pointed at a clean-shaven Mabry directly behind Leal in a green shirt. When later asked the same question by Penny’s defense attorney, Hatem Chahine, Rhoades pointed at Penny, who was across the room from Mabry, had a beard and was wearing a white shirt.
Chahine asked Rhoades if he needed glasses to which Rhoades replied “yes,” and then Chahine asked Rhoades if it was dark the night of the incident and if he was wearing his glasses then.
Rhoades responded, “Does my eyesight matter?”
The state called another witness who said he could not identify all of the men who were in the courtroom or who were a part of the alleged attack. Leal then made a motion to dismiss the charges against the defendants due to “insufficient evidence.” The charges were dismissed without prejudice, meaning the state could refile them.
Other defense attorneys in the case included Dakota Loomis for Anderson, Angela Keck for Thomas, Branden Smith for Mabry, and Michael Clarke for Brown.
A sixth man was charged in connection with the case, Devontae Deshon Rae Torres, 24, of Lawrence, but those identical charges were dismissed prior to the hearing also for “insufficient evidence.” Torres was convicted of one count of felony aggravated battery with a deadly weapon after using his dog to attack a man at The Reserve and was sentenced to 12 months of probation, as reported by the Journal-World.
Three men who were charged in the beer and alcohol case are still facing charges in connection with the dog attack, two days earlier, on June 26, 2022. Thomas, Anderson and Mabry are scheduled to appear in court on March 10 for a preliminary hearing in that case facing felony and misdemeanor battery charges. Mabry and Anderson were each given a $60,000 bond while Thomas was given a $50,000 bond according to court records.