Gage Welton identified Khari Lang at a preliminary hearing Wednesday in Jasper County Circuit Court as the man who came to his door April 13 armed with a crowbar, forced Welton into a bathroom and made off with some of his roommate's possessions.
Welton's testimony was enough to convince Associate Judge Joe Hensley that there was probable cause for Lang, 23, of Webb City, to stand trial on counts of first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary and armed criminal action.
Welton told the court that he was home alone at his residence on Hunter Road near Carl Junction the day in question but was expecting his roommate's brother to come over when he heard a noise at the front door.
He went to see who it was and was met by a man armed with a crowbar. The man forced him into the bathroom of his home, he said.
Welton identified Lang as the man with the crowbar during direct examination by Assistant Prosecutor Michael Schaeffer. He said he had worked with Lang at Communications Solutions & Technology in Joplin but did not know him well.
He said he asked Lang more than once what he wanted but they didn't really have much of a conversation during the course of the home-invasion robbery. A couple of minutes later, while he was still confined to the bathroom, his roommate's brother, Isaac Phillips, showed up, he said.
"I don't know what was said between them, but I believe a shotgun was pointed at Isaac," Welton told the court.
He said the shotgun, a 12-gauge Mossberg belonging to his roommate, Matthew Phillips, was one of the items — along with shotgun shells and video games — that Lang took from the place moments later when he drove off just as Welton's father was arriving at the address.
Public defender Craig Lowe questioned Welton as to how he could be certain the intruder was Lang because he did not know him particularly well.
"Is it fair to say you didn't see a lot of what happened because you were in the bathroom?" Lowe asked.
"Yes," Welton replied.
A probable-cause affidavit filed in the case states that the suspect left in a gold Lexus and that Matthew Phillips, who was at work at the time, later helped identify him by pulling up Lang's Facebook page. Jasper County sheriff's deputies located the suspect at his home in Webb City and took him into custody. The stolen shotgun and four video games believed to have been taken in the robbery purportedly were recovered at the defendant's home.
The judge set Lang's initial appearance in a trial division of the court for July 22.