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Cal U student facing trial on robbery, other charges

| Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Khari Hicks

WASHINGTON, Pa. – A California University of Pennsylvania student said he was awakened in his dorm last week by another student pointing what he believed was a “real gun” in his face.

Sophomore Andrew Stenken testified Wednesday that freshman Khari Hicks robbed him at gunpoint the morning of Oct. 30 in Residence Hall B.

Hicks, 19, of 2254 Welner Drive, Wilkinsburg, was ordered to stand trial Wednesday following a preliminary hearing on allegations he used a plastic toy gun to steal $250 from Stenken.

Hicks appeared before Magisterial District Judge Larry Hopkins in Washington County Central Court.

Hicks faces trial on three felony counts of robbery; two counts each of simple assault, terroristic threats and recklessly endangering another person; one count each of theft by unlawful taking and possessing instruments of a crime; and four counts of possession of a controlled substance (four stamp bags of suspected heroin.)

Stenken told Washington County Assistant District Attorney John Paul Lewis that Hicks woke him around 10:20 a.m. by shoving a backpack in his face.

“He's telling me to wake up and give me your money,” Stenken testified. “He had a gun in my face. I was pretty scared, I mean, I didn't expect my day to start like that.”

Stenken's roommate, William Walker, testified Hicks allegedly came to their dorm asking for the “preacher,” and said he left his phone charger there the night before.

Walker testified that he assumed Hicks was looking for their other roommate, Keon Thompson, and let him inside.

Hicks quickly left, but returned five minutes later, allegedly telling Walker that Thompson told him where to find his phone charger. Walker testified that Hicks went into the bedroom Thompson and Stenken share in the two-bedroom campus apartment.

Walker testified that he thought Hicks was taking “too long,” to find the charger.

When Walker went into the bedroom, he allegedly saw Hicks pointing a gun at Stenken's head.

“He told me to stand against the wall,” Walker testified. “I was pretty scared. I didn't know what was going to happen.”

Both Walker and Stenken testified they believed Hicks had a “real gun.”

The roommates reported the purported crime to their dorm's resident assistants, and then called campus police.

University officials issued alerts to staff and students and put the campus on lock-down.

Cal U police Detective Michael Hampe testified that Hicks was arrested about an hour later on Third Street, near the student union.

Hampe said Hicks consented to a search of his room in Johnson Hall.

Hampe testified police found a small, black plastic toy gun in Hicks' dresser.

They also found four stamp bags of suspected heroin and the clothes Walker and Stenken described Hicks was wearing during the holdup, Hampe testified.

The stolen cash was never found, Hampe said.

Hampe said surveillance video at Residence Hall B shows Hicks entering and leaving the dorm.

Under questioning by Hicks' attorney, Jeremy Davis, Hampe said he did now know if Hicks signed into Residence Hall B using a student ID card, which is policy on the campus.

Davis argued the charges against Hicks should be dropped because of insufficient evidence and that the alleged weapon was a toy.

“Thank God it wasn't a real gun,” Lewis said. “The witnesses didn't know if it was real or not.”

Davis asked Hopkins to set “reasonable” bail for Hicks, arguing his client has no criminal record and has the support of the many friends and relatives who attended his hearing.

Hicks was denied bail following his arrest by Magisterial District Judge Joshua Kanalis in Centerville because of the “violent” nature of the reported crime.

Hopkins set bail at $100,000 straight cash. He was returned to the Washington County Correctional Facility.

Hicks, a former standout quarterback at Imani Christian High School, was listed on the Cal U football team's preseason roster. However, he was not on the team at the time of his arrest because of eligibility issues, Cal U spokeswoman Christine Kindl previously said.

Stacy Wolford is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-684-2640 or at swolford@tribweb.com.

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