HU football player pleads to robbery

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Kansas case involved pot

By Martin Salazar

A New Mexico Highlands University football player pleaded guilty to felony robbery in Kansas last week, and he’s scheduled to go before a Douglas County judge for sentencing in April.

According to press accounts of the incident, Christopher S. Martin, 22, and three other men were arrested and charged in connection with a May 13, 2013, home invasion in Lawrence, Kan.

Authorities there initially alleged that Martin and the others robbed a fellow Kansas University student at gunpoint, taking money and marijuana from him.

Martin ended up at Highlands after he was booted off the Kansas University football team, though Highlands athletics officials aren’t saying whether they recruited him.

Highlands Sports Information Director Matthew Lofton said Highlands coaches were aware of Martin’s legal troubles prior to his joining the team. He added that the coaches are keeping tabs on the legal proceedings.

“Mr. Martin did not play last year as he did his year of residency at Highlands so he red-shirted,” Lofton said. “As far as his plea affecting his status on the team and how Mr. Martin ended up at Highlands, we have no comment.”

The Lawrence Journal-World reported in its online edition that Martin appeared in court Friday and pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of felony robbery. He had initially been charged with aggravated robbery, a more serious offense.

The charge that Martin ultimately pleaded to makes no reference to a gun being used in the robbery, Martin’s attorney told the Lawrence Journal-World. She also told the newspaper that prosecutors have agreed not to request that Martin be required to register as a violent offender.

The sentencing range Martin faces is between 31 and 136 months, although he is eligible for probation.

The newspaper quoted Martin as telling the judge, “I took U.S. currency and marijuana from (another student).”

At the time of the incident, Martin was a Kansas University football player. After he was arrested, the coach imposed a series of conditions for him remaining on the team, and he was kicked off the team for violating some of those conditions, a Kansas television news station reported.

According to news accounts, Martin admitted to grabbing less than $100 in cash and running off.

In January, one of Martin’s co-defendants reached a plea deal with prosecutors and agreed to testify against Martin.

The Highlands football roster for the 2013 season lists Martin as a defensive lineman. He is a junior, and his hometown is listed as Hayward, Calif.

Asked whether Highlands does any background checks on prospective players before bringing them here, Lofton responded, “As far as background checks, it is just the recruiting process.”