Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson announced today Anthony L. Roberts, Jr, 22, of Topeka was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the multiple murders in Downtown Lawrence on October 1, 2017.
On June 25, 2019 a Douglas County Jury found Roberts guilty of Second Degree Murder of Colwin Henderson III, First Degree Felony Murder of Leah Brown, First Degree Felony Murder of Tre’Mel Dean and Attempted Second Degree Murder of Tahzay Rayton.
District Court Judge Sally D. Pokorny sentenced Roberts to just over 68 years to life in the custody of the Kansas Secretary of Corrections – prison. Roberts was sentenced to 165 months for Murder in the Second Degree, 61 months for Attempted Murder in the Second Degree, and 25 years to life for each of the counts of Murder in the First Degree, with all counts to run consecutive. If Roberts becomes eligible for release from custody he will be subject to lifetime post-release supervision and he will be required to register as a violent offender for 15 years.
The case began in the early morning hours of October 1, 2017. Roberts and his codefendants Ahmed Rayton and Dominque McMillon arrived in Lawrence from Topeka to confront a rival group of males that were suspected of battering one of Roberts’ friends. Roberts was armed with a handgun with an extended magazine and 37 rounds of ammunition. Roberts and his codefendants confronted the other group of males near the northwest intersection of 11th and Massachusetts Streets in Downtown Lawrence. The group began to fight. Roberts, who was several feet away from the fight drew his handgun and shot and killed Colwin Henderson III who was fighting with Roberts’ codefendants. Evidence at the scene would show that Roberts fired 15 rounds not only striking and killing Henderson but also striking and killing Brown and Dean. Roberts’ shots also wounded Tahzay Rayton.
Roberts’ codefendant Ahmed Rayton, previously convicted, had fired north at other subjects, striking one. After the shooting Roberts and his codefendants fled the scene but were later stopped by a Lawrence Police Officer for traffic violations. Roberts was located with a handgun. Officers would release Roberts because they did not have sufficient information to link Roberts to the shooting at the time of the stop.
Detectives with the Lawrence Police Department used police in car cameras, traffic cameras and surveillance cameras to track the movement and discover the identity of Roberts and his codefendants.
Roberts was eventually apprehended on an arrest warrant at a relative’s house in Kansas City.
Branson expressed his gratitude and appreciation for the hard work of the Lawrence Police Department for the countless hours they worked on this case.
Today’s hearing was held in the Division Two Courtroom of the Honorable Sally D. Pokorny. The case was investigated by the Lawrence Police Department and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office with assistance by the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. District Attorney Charles Branson, Deputy District Attorney David Melton, and Assistant District Attorney Hannah Wittman prosecuted the case.