Young man pleads not guilty to violent robbery

SAN MARCOS — An 18-year-old man accused of the assault and robbery of three men in their apartment will have to stand trial on charges relating to the crime, a judge ruled Jan. 21.
Christopher Peart pleaded not guilty to three counts of assault with a deadly weapon and one count each of robbery with a firearm allegation and grand theft relating to an early morning Nov. 29 incident at a San Marcos apartment.
After arriving at the apartment the evening before with his two friends, one of whom, Edward Steagell, lived at the residence, Peart got into an altercation with a third man, Michael Laird, who also resided at the apartment, according to witness testimony.
Laird testified at some point, Peart stole his .357 magnum handgun and used it to commit the robbery and assault of the three men, Deputy District Attorney Laurie Hauf said in a phone interview. She said Laird testified he was beaten unconscious several times throughout the attack.
If convicted, Peart faces more than 10 years in prison, Hauf said.
While Laird was forthright in his testimony about Peart being the person who robbed him that evening, Steagell’s younger brother, Keith Childress, testified he didn’t remember anything from that night.
When asked if he remembered telling the police that Peart forced the men into a bedroom at gunpoint and attacked Laird, Childress again testified he didn’t remember what he said.
“No, it’s a blur,” Childress testified. “I don’t remember telling the police anything.”
Childress testified he immediately went to bed when the trio got back to his brother’s apartment; however, he told police he heard a commotion that evening and when he walked out he saw Peart with a gun in his hand. Additionally, he told police that he and his brother tried to get the weapon away from the defendant.
Peart, who remains in custody, is scheduled to be back in court Feb. 18.

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