A 19-year-old Washington man accused of armed robbery during a drug deal last month was charged Wednesday with attempting to dispose of the handgun used in the crime.

Grant M. Smith, Washington, is named in a Franklin County felony complaint charging him with tampering with evidence in a felony prosecution.

Smith pleaded not guilty to the charge Thursday. He is being held in the Franklin County Jail on a $10,000 cash-only bond.

Smith was one of four men charged in the Sept. 25 robbery of three suspected drug dealers who were lured to a Southwinds apartment and robbed at gunpoint.

The three other men charged in the robbery are James E. Benson Jr., 20, Cape Girardeau; Christopher J. Landrum, 19, and Ethan R. Blaylock, 18, both of Washington.

Police did not recover the handgun used in the alleged crime when the suspects were arrested.

According to the probable cause statement filed in the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office by Washington police, the handgun belongs to Blaylock.

Authorities allege Blaylock gave the gun to a female friend before his arrest for safe keeping and to hide it from police.

Smith was released Oct. 8 from custody after posting bond for the robbery charge, court records state. He then contacted the woman in possession of firearm.

The same day he was released, Smith told the woman that Blaylock would want her to get rid of the handgun, but the woman refused to get rid of it until Blaylock told her to do so, the probable cause statement reads.

The the woman called Blaylock at the jail. Smith instructed the woman to ask Blaylock if he wanted her to “sell that piece.”

Blaylock allegedly told the woman during the jailhouse call to keep the “piece” and to hide it, authorities said.

Smith also spoke to Blaylock, police said.

The next day, Oct. 9, Smith contacted the woman and stated he would send a friend to drive her to the jail to visit Blaylock. Smith told the woman to bring with her the gun and nearly $2,000 in cash that had been collected to free Blaylock on bond, according to the probable cause statement. Blaylock is being held on a $75,000 bond.

Once at the jail, the woman left a backpack containing the cash, handgun and her belongings in the car when she went to see Blayock. When she left the jail, the car, backpack and its contents were gone, police said.

On Oct. 10, the woman’s backpack, still containing the gun and other items, was recovered on the shoulder of Highway V at Independence Drive, a short distance from the jail in Union.

The cash was no longer in the bag, according to the probable cause statement. 

Armed Robbery 

Authorities said three men from Gerald drove to Washington Sept. 25 to allegedly sell several ounces of marijuana at an apartment in Southwinds.

The probable cause statement filed by Washington police says Smith instigated the deal.

The three men took the marijuana in a backpack to a Southwinds apartment — they were then directed by Smith to another apartment in the same complex, police said.

At the second location, Blaylock allegedly pulled a gun on the dealers. Benson is accused of taking the backpack containing the marijuana off of the shoulders of one of the Gerald men, police said.

On Sept. 26, investigators went to a home in the 1200 block of West Fifth Street looking for suspects. Police were in the process of getting a warrant to search the home when Benson and Smith fled on foot from the rear of the residence, and were quickly taken into custody.

Franklin County deputies already were at the scene to assist Washington police. While waiting for the search warrant, a Franklin County K-9 unit also responded to the scene to help search for suspects.

The other two suspects were not located, but the backpack belong to one of the robbery victims was located. Police also seized marijuana, drug paraphernalia, “drug packaging,” an airsoft (which shoots BBs) handgun and a large amount of cash, police said.