Judge allows man time to ‘arrange personal affairs’ before sentencing in fentanyl case, but he immediately goes on the lam and is arrested on suspicion of new crimes

Mason Robinson

A Lawrence man who entered a plea last month in connection with the overdose death of a young woman and who was given time to arrange his “personal affairs” before going to prison immediately went on the lam before being arrested for a burglary alleged to have happened the day before his plea.

The man, Mason Duane Robinson, 28, was originally charged in Douglas County District Court with distributing a controlled substance causing death. The charge is in connection with the death of Angelyca LeAnn Cowdin, 23, of Lawrence, who died of acute fentanyl intoxication on April 14, 2022, as the Journal-World reported.

Robinson pleaded no contest on April 26 to the reduced charge of felony distribution of fentanyl as part of a plea agreement that not only reduced the high-level death charge but also dismissed four other felony cases in which he was alleged to have stolen multiple vehicles as well as an additional possession of fentanyl charge.

photo by: Kim Callahan/Journal-World

Mason Duane Robinson appears for his plea hearing Friday, April 26, 2024, in Douglas County District Court.

After Robinson entered his plea, Senior Assistant District Attorney David Greenwald had asked the court to take Robinson into custody because Robinson has a history of failing to appear in court or delaying court proceedings. The morning of that hearing Robinson failed to appear and called his attorney to say his truck would not start, but after Judge Sally Pokorny considered issuing a warrant for his arrest, he appeared.

Robinson had missed or been late to a number of hearings in the past for additional car troubles, including a flat tire and being caught behind a train. He also missed a hearing after claiming he had COVID, which he told the court about only on the morning of the hearing.

Robinson’s proceedings were so often delayed that his co-defendant in the case, William Martin Byrd, 38, who pleaded no contest in October 2022 to one count of distribution of fentanyl under 3.5 grams, served nearly the entirety of his 23-month prison sentence in the Douglas County Jail while waiting to testify against Robinson, which he never did. Byrd’s charge was reduced as part of a plea agreement from distribution of a controlled substance leading to death after he agreed to testify against Robinson. Robinson was alleged to have sold the pill to Byrd, who then gave it to Cowdin, allegedly causing her death.

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

William Martin Byrd is pictured during a hearing on Jan. 18, 2023, in Douglas County District Court. Byrd’s sentencing for distribution of fentanyl has been continued multiple times.

Despite Greenwald’s request, Pokorny gave Robinson the opportunity to arrange his affairs before sentencing. The sentence for the low-level drug charge with Robinson’s criminal history will amount to about four years in prison, according to Kansas sentencing guidelines. The original distribution causing death charge could have resulted in 50 years in prison if Robinson had been convicted at trial.

Robinson was ordered at the April 26 hearing to meet with court services for a pre-sentence investigation to verify his criminal history prior to sentencing, but the following Monday a warrant was issued for his arrest for failure to comply, according to court records.

That warrant was served two days later when Robinson was arrested around 2 a.m. on May 1 in Shawnee County on another warrant, for felony burglary, misdemeanor theft and misdemeanor criminal damage. In that case Robinson is alleged to have broken a window at a Topeka residence before going inside to take shoes and a speaker on April 25, the day before entering his plea in the Douglas County fentanyl death case.

Robinson is scheduled to be sentenced in Douglas County on June 6 and has a preliminary hearing for his new burglary charge in Shawnee County on June 11.

Robinson has prior convictions in Douglas County for felony criminal threat in 2017 and felony counts of burglary and flee and elude in 2018, and numerous misdemeanors, according to Kansas Department of Corrections records.

More coverage: Mason D. Robinson

April 26, 2024: Man originally charged in young woman’s fentanyl death pleads no contest to lesser crime, gets 4 other felony cases dismissed as part of deal

March 26, 2024: Lawrence man on bond in fentanyl death case and numerous other cases arrested after car chase ending in crash

January 4, 2024: Lawrence man originally charged in fentanyl death gets 23-month sentence; he’s served 19 months waiting for his case to move forward

August 31, 2023: Sheriff’s office arrests man accused in fentanyl death after he fails to appear in court

August 28, 2023: Lawrence man on bond in fentanyl death case fails to appear in court; judge issues warrant reinstating $100,000 bond

June 26, 2023: Lawrence man who was out on bond in fentanyl death case arrested on suspicion of theft and interference with law enforcement

December 31, 2022: Mom says Lawrence woman who died of fentanyl poisoning at age 23 ‘was a person, not another number’

June 20, 2022: 23-year-old Lawrence woman at center of drug-death case died of acute fentanyl intoxication

June 16, 2022: Two men charged in connection with drug death in Lawrence


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