A Manhattan man accused of armed robbery took the stand in his own defense Thursday afternoon. Levertis Horne, 22, acknowledged going to the apartment where the victims lived in an effort to buy marijuana, but denied being armed at the time.
Horne is being tried on charges of robbing four roommates at gunpoint Oct. 5, 2012, at Chase Manhattan Apartments, 1400 Chase Place, which resulted in the injury of one of the roommates. Horne is facing two counts of aggravated robbery, two counts of attempted robbery, one count of aggravated battery and one count of aggravated burglary.
Horne confirmed testimony by one of the persons in the room, Andrew Johnson, that the parties didn’t know each other. Horne said he was directed to the location by a mutual hookup. Johnson said he had done drug deals with that hookup before.
Horne told the court his then-girlfriend, Kimberly Frazier, 20, waited in the car, while he went in.
He said he knocked on the door to the apartment, stating a man had sent him to buy weed there, and proceeded to take money out of his pocket. He said he was carrying $1,200 but testified that when he reached into his pocket, one of the roommates hit him, leading to the fight that resulted in gunshot wounds to Chase Cargile, another of the persons in the room. Horne said during questions from his lawyer, Brenda Jordan, that he didn’t have a gun on him and didn’t know where one came from.
Horne said he ran away, and his girlfriend drove him to the home of a friend at University Crossing apartments, 2215 College Ave., where he cleaned up and nursed his injuries from the fight. Johnson had previously testified that another person in the room, identified as Austin Miller, had thrown a hammer at Horne, hitting his jaw.
Horne testified that he left his phone at the apartment, and added that when he left the scene he no longer had the $1,200. Police questioned Horne after finding the phone in the Chase apartment, which Horne said he expected.
During his testimony, Johnson said he and Miller had just gotten back from Colorado the night of the incident. He acknowledged that they had transported marijuana from that state, where marijuana is legal, with the intent to sell it in Kansas.
Johnson testified that someone knocked on the door of the apartment while he was in the kitchen making a burrito and barged through the door as another roommate opened it.
Johnson said he saw the intruder was a black male who had a gun and was saying, “Get down on the ground,” three times, the third time ending with a threat to shoot. Johnson said all four of the roommates cooperated by laying face down on the living room floor.
Johnson said initially he told police that the intruder demanded money, but Thursday Johnson testified the intruder actually demanded marijuana. He said he and his other roommates didn’t want to be arrested for possession and distribution of the drug, but an investigation resulted in at least three of the roommates’ arrests.
After the alleged demand for drugs, Johnson said Cargile went into his own room to get a jar of marijuana and told the intruder, “If you want this, come and get it from me,” before Cargile, Miller and the intruder wrestled. He said that’s when two shots were fired.
Cargile was shot and stabbed in the neck, but survived. Tyler Sweet, another roommate, was also home at the time of the incident. Johnson’s former girlfriend, Sarah Steinhauser, 20, testified that she was eating a sandwich in Johnson’s bedroom when she saw a man with a gun wearing a hood and a cover-up over his face.
Steinhauser said she hid in closet and called 911 after she heard two gunshots.
Steinhauser testified that she originally told the 911 dispatcher the intruder demanded money because Johnson told her to in the roommates’ quest to hide their drug crimes.
While the roommates and Steinhauser were detained at the Riley County Police Department in the early morning of Oct. 6 and unknowingly videotaped, the police found out that marijuana was hidden in Johnson’s car after the incident, resulting in the roommates’ drug arrests.
At the time of publication the jury had yet to hear closing arguments and deliberate.