The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

March 1, 2013

Third man convicted in Pittsburg robbery case

By Jeff Lehr
news@joplinglobe.com

PITTSBURG, Kan. — A Pittsburg man is facing up to 19 years in prison following a jury’s conviction of him for aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary.

Guilty verdicts were returned against Artis T.E. Rollins III, 26, on both counts Thursday at the end of a two-day trial in Crawford County District Court in Pittsburg. Rollins, who will be sentenced April 3, could be assessed up to 19 years for the robbery and up to 34 months for the burglary.

He is the third defendant to be convicted in connection with a home invasion robbery that led to a nonfatal shooting April 28 of last year at 1122 S. Elm St. in Pittsburg. The men entered the home of John R. Carver, 20, looking to steal guns, according to Prosecutor Michael Gayoso. An altercation with Carver ensued and they stole an Xbox video game system instead, the prosecutor said.

One of the three defendants in the case, Mitchell E. Owens, 19, of Kansas City, was shot in the hip with a .22-caliber rifle as they were fleeing the address. A friend of Carver’s, Kyle S. Taggart, 28, of Pittsburg, was charged with attempted murder because investigators do not believe the shooting was justified.

An accomplice of Rollins and Owens, Stephen J. Dibble, 25, of Pittsburg, pleaded guilty last year to aggravated burglary and was assessed six years in prison. Owens pleaded guilty to the same offense and received a 34-month prison term, but Chief Judge John Gariglietti suspended imposition of the sentence.

Owens, who testified at Rollins’ trial this week, received the suspended sentence in part because he had no prior criminal record. But he has a probation revocation hearing coming up on Monday because of an alleged failure to maintain contact with his probation officer.

Gayoso said the convictions of all three defendants are important because robberies and burglaries in Crawford County have been becoming more violent in recent years. He said the case was all the more concerning because the defendants were looking to steal weapons.

Owens was found wounded and hiding in a closet of a nearby apartment complex shortly after the robbery and shooting. Dibble was arrested the next day still in possession of the video game system. Rollins was not identified and arrested until a few days later.



Attempted murder charge

Kyle Taggart recently waived a preliminary hearing on the attempted murder charge. His next court appearance is set for Wednesday in Pittsburg.