A Great Bend man who said he was just trying to get his money back after being stiffed on a drug deal has been found guilty of aggravated robbery and other charges.
As a two-day jury trial concluded Wednesday afternoon in Barton County District Court, Jeffrey Todd Hicks was found guilty on all seven charges: theft from Jason M. King, aggravated robbery of Jesse P. Rogers; aggravated burglary; aggravated assault of Abby L. Wilkinson; and three counts of criminal restraint, for binding King, Rogers and Wilkinson with duct tape.
Hicks and another Great Bend man, Eligus Ryan Ricketts, burst into King’s residence at 1424 10th St. in Great Bend the night of Sept. 22, 2010. According to testimony, the victims didn’t know them, but provided pretty good descriptions and said one man had a pistol and the other had a sawed-off shotgun.
Assistant County Attorneys Garett Relph and Amy Mellor called on the victims and investigating officers to tell the story. The victims were told to avert their eyes or cover their heads. Wilkinson said she thought she was going to be killed. After “tying them up” with duct tape, the robbers helped themselves to a 52-inch flat screen television, a desktop computer, laptop computer, video gaming system, games and other items.
After the incident, Wilkinson said she did some research on Facebook and came up with possible names of the two men. Then police detectives showed the victims photos of possible suspects. Great Bend Detective Terry Millard said he found Hicks and Ricketts after Rogers and King positively identified them in the photo lineup.
Eight days later after the robbery, Hicks and Ricketts were arrested in a room at the Baltzell Motel. The stolen property was gone — reportedly dropped off in “Little Mexico,” but police recovered handguns and sawed-off shotguns.
Police Detective Denton Doze said when he interrogated him, Hicks was surprised that the victims had called the police. Hicks didn’t deny taking King’s property, but he said he had carried a knife, not a gun.
Furthermore, Hicks said it wasn’t a robbery; he claimed he’d paid King $1,000 for cocaine, but that King hadn’t delivered the drugs. So, Hicks said, he came to get his money back and settled on taking property.
“Zero threats were communicated to anybody for the taking of this property,” defense attorney Benjamin Fisher, Hutchinson, said.
Fisher noted that King appeared to be a reluctant witness Tuesday. During its deliberations, the jury asked to have the court reporter read back King’s testimony. Asked if he had any “uninvited guests” the night of the robbery, King said no.
But Relph persisted, “Did anybody show up with guns?”
“Were they invited?” No.
“We were tied up and our stuff taken.”
Although he could no longer say Hicks was the man who robbed him, King agreed he had chosen him and Ricketts from the photos because they looked like the people, and he was able to point Hicks out in the courtroom. He denied having done business with Hicks before the robbery.
Barton County District Judge Kitts thanked the jurors for spending two days listening to the case. Because it was after 5 p.m. when they reached their verdict, jurors were allowed to leave without first being interviewed by attorneys, which is customary. Relph told the Great Bend Tribune that he also thanked the jury.
“I appreciate the hard work of the jury,” he said. “I appreciate their due diligence in seeing that justice was done.”
Kitts did not immediately schedule sentencing, but ordered a pre-sentencing investigation which will include Hicks’ criminal history.
The other suspect, Ricketts, was convicted in late December after pleading “no contest” to amended charges. His sentencing was set for April 13 but was delayed by the jury trial for Adam Longoria. An attorney for Ricketts has asked for leniency, saying Hicks was the mastermind of the robbery.