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Monday, April 21, 2014

Eck testifies in burglary hearing

A former Hutchinson player is charged with playing a role in the robbery of his coach's room.

BY TONY ADAME
The Wichita Eagle

HUTCHINSON — Quantel Denson was out late the night of April 11. Hutchinson Community College basketball coach Steve Eck, staying at the Elland Hall dorm to keep an eye on his players, decided to leave the door to his room open and fell asleep in his chair waiting for Denson to let him know he was back.

Denson, a freshman forward, did finally check in in the wee hours of the morning, and Eck went back to sleep in his chair.

A few hours later, a man robbed Eck's room, and Denson was linked to the incident.

On Thursday, Eck testified at a preliminary hearing for Denson in the Reno County Courthouse that when he awoke April 12, he saw Daniel T. Flamma-Sherma, 20, of Blue Springs, Mo., robbing him of a leather satchel bag that contained Eck's extra glasses, scouting materials and $1,500 in cash.

Denson, 19, who has since transferred to Paris (Texas) Junior College, was bound over for trial before Reno County Magistrate Judge Randy McEwen on Thursday on charges of aggravated burglary, felony theft and conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary. Flamma-Sherma has been bound over for trial on similar charges and is scheduled to be arraigned this morning.

Senior Assistant District Attorney Stephen Maxwell asked McEwen to add a charge of aggravated robbery against Denson, but the judge ultimately told Maxwell to file a court brief within 10 days and then give the defense 10 days to file a response before ruling.

Hutchinson Police Sgt. Thad Pickard testified that HCC video footage taken from outside the dorms on the morning of the robbery shows Denson come out of his dorm at 6:29 a.m. talking on a phone, prop the door to the dorms open with a carpet and meet with a red vehicle. Pickard said Denson then re-entered the dorms and Flamma-Sherma followed him in 29 seconds later, using Denson's ID card to enter.

Pickard brought Denson in for questioning, in the process of which Denson denied knowing Flamma-Sherma.

"He denied knowing (Flamma-Sherma), but I did find out eventually that they grew up in the same area in Kansas City and they'd played basketball against each other," Pickard said.

Pickard, already possessing Flamma-Sherma's phone and having found Denson's ID on Flamma-Sherma, took Denson's phone. Phone records showed a "Big Q" in Flamma-Sherma's phone under Denson's number and 15 calls between the two from 1:13 a.m. to 6:29 a.m. on April 12. Public defender Kelly Driscoll, Denson's attorney, got Pickard to admit that they couldn't say for sure who was using the phone when the calls were placed, other than the 6:29 a.m. call when Denson was shown on video.

There were two more phone calls placed from Denson's phone to Flamma-Sherma, at 6:47 a.m. and 6:53 a.m., when he presumably would have been being chased by Eck and then-Hutchinson firefighter Greg Lanker, who ultimately subdued Flamma-Sherma until his arrest. Lanker was injured in the altercation with Flamma-Sherma, who bit him.

"I knew how heavy the bag was," Eck said. "So I knew eventually whoever had took it would wear out."

After testifying, Eck patted Denson on the shoulder as he left the witness stand. Denson, 6-foot-9 forward, committed to Missouri shortly before his arrest in May.

Denson, who is free on $12,000 bail, declined to comment when leaving the courtroom with his mother, but did post to his Twitter account minutes later.

"I'm on my way home, #blessed," Denson tweeted.

Tony Adame covers small-college sports. Reach him at 316-268-6284 or tadame@wichitaeagle.com.

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