Attorney for Lawrence man who threatened Free State High students with a rifle said he is expecting probation after plea agreement

photo by: Douglas County Sheriff's Office

Maurice Buckner

The attorney for a Lawrence man now convicted of threatening students near Free State High School with a rifle said on Friday that the man was expecting probation after entering into a plea agreement with the state.

The man, Maurice De’Anton Thomas Buckner, 33, was charged with one felony count of attempted aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, two felony counts of criminal threat against two juveniles and one misdemeanor count of battery against one of the juveniles, according to charging documents. The charges relate to an incident on May 3, 2023, as the Journal-World reported.

Buckner pleaded no contest on Friday to the attempted assault charge and one count of criminal threat, both person felonies. Assistant District Attorney Lisa Montgomery said that the state would dismiss the remaining charges as part of a plea agreement with the state.

Judge Amy Hanley accepted Buckner’s plea and asked Montgomery whether the state was seeking a finding that the crime was committed using a deadly weapon or a firearm. Albert Harris, Buckner’s attorney, interjected that his negotiations with the state included a finding that a deadly weapon, not a firearm, was used and that Buckner would be required to register as a violent offender for 15 years.

Kansas law requires that if the state seeks a finding that a firearm was used in the commission of a felony and the court makes that finding, then a special rule applies that the sentence imposed is presumptive prison while the deadly weapon finding does not trigger the same rule.

Harris said that in the agreement he made with the state, there was no negotiation for the length of time that Buckner should receive in prison and he expects the standard prison sentence to be suspended to probation in accordance with Kansas sentencing guidelines. He said Buckner has a minimal criminal history.

Montgomery, who joined the DA’s office in April, said that the incident started near Sprouts, 4740 Bauer Farm Drive. She said Free State High School student resource officer Kacey Wiltz was responding to a reported fight involving students from the school.

When Wiltz made contact with three students, they reported that Buckner and another man had confronted them at the bus stop near Sprouts and had struck one of the children. The students said they initially fought back but then ran away. The kids told Wiltz that Buckner had a rifle, Montgomery said.

Buckner then got back into the car and followed the students and confronted them again. Montgomery said during this interaction Buckner said that he knew what school the kids went to and that he would come and find them. Buckner then left the scene.

Montgomery said police later stopped the vehicle Buckner was traveling in and arrested him. In the vehicle police found a “.22 caliber Plum Crazy AR style rifle” loaded with one round. Police then arrested Buckner.

Buckner was released shortly after his arrest on a $50,000 own recognizance bond, meaning he was not required to pay any money to be released from jail. His bond was revoked in August 2023 after he was charged in Franklin County with felony aggravated battery in connection with a stabbing incident.

The alleged victim in that case testified in September 2023 that Buckner stabbed him in the abdomen and the wound required six stitches. He testified that his doctor told him he was lucky he was a “fluffy” guy or the wound might have caused damage to a vital organ. Buckner has argued that he was acting in self-defense, according to court records. Buckner is set to be arraigned on that charge in June.

Buckner bonded out in Franklin County on a $15,000 surety bond after his arrest there, and posted a $50,000 surety bond in Douglas County after his arrest for violating his bond conditions in September 2023.

Buckner is scheduled to be sentenced in his Douglas County case on July 12.


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