Wood Oil robbery, rape case begins
The trial for a 26-year-old Kansas City, Kan., man accused of robbing a Lansing gasoline station and raping the clerk there last December finally began Monday after months of continuations.
The suspect is charged with rape, aggravated robbery and aggravated intimidation of a victim in a Dec. 21 incident at Wood Oil, 109 4-H Road.
The trial began at 1 p.m. with opening statements from the prosecution, represented by assistant county attorney Pat Cahill, and the defense, by attorney Charles Lamb.
Cahill began with a chronology of the crime and a list of evidence including video from the gasoline station's security cameras and many items of the suspect's clothing. Cahill told the jury, "once you've examined the evidence, you'll see a serious crime was committed" by the suspect.
Lamb countered that the state's evidence was circumstantial, depending most heavily on video from the security cameras at the gas station. Lamb said the video would, in fact, show that his client was not guilty. He added that while the Wood Oil clerk said the man who assaulted her had a gun, no gun had been recovered from the suspect, and no DNA evidence of the suspect turned up in an examination of the victim, which Lamb said should clear his client of the rape charge.
Four witnesses testified. The first two had visited Wood Oil about the time of the crimes. Neither had seen the suspect, but the second witness, Catherine Smith, saw the victim, a clerk at the store, after the suspect had apparently fled. Smith said the clerk was "shaken" and sitting on the floor.
Lansing Police Lt. Tony Waterman then testified for about an hour. He had been the first officer on the scene, and he also serves as evidence custodian for the department. Waterman wheeled in a cart holding evidence that filled two file boxes and a laundry basket. The laundry basket held clothes the suspect had in the vehicle he was driving when he was arrested two days after the robbery. Waterman described how he came to arrest the suspect after following him from a tip-off by a clerk at 7-Eleven, 501 N. Main St.
The suspect's girlfriend at the time of the incident testified that she recognized him as the robber on camera when she watched the surveillance video from the robbery.
The trial adjourned at 4 p.m. and will resume at 9 a.m. Tuesday.