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Murder victim’s boyfriend arrested

MANATEE — The fiance of a pregnant woman who was shot and killed during a recent home invasion robbery was arrested on drug charges.

According to a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office report, Lawrence Funsch, 21, was arrested Monday after investigators discovered 35.5 grams of marijuana, along with Oxycodone and Alprazolam pills, during the execution of a search warrant of his residence.

Funsch was the boyfriend of 19-year-old Crystal Johnson, who was shot July 12 when three men busted into her mother’s home in the DeSoto Village Apartment complex, where she and Funsch were living.

Johnson, who was about seven months pregnant, was taken to Manatee Memorial Hospital where she died, but not before her baby was delivered. The baby died about eight hours later at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg.

Two men, Evverick Houston and Gregory Kennon, have been arrested in connection with the shooting.

During the investigation of the home invasion and shooting, detectives found evidence of drug activity in the apartment, including a small amount of marijuana, a scale and a ledger.

This led the sheriff’s office to obtain a search warrant and the discovery of the other drugs, said David Bristow, spokesman for the sheriff’s office.

“We don’t know if anyone else other than him is involved,” Bristow said. “We found the majority of the drugs under his bed.”

According to a report in the Bradenton Herald, court records show that in July 2007 Funsch pleaded no contest to possession of a controlled substance, hydrocodone, after a November 2006 arrest. Then in April 2008 he was arrested on a charge of possession of marijuana. Prosecutors declined charging him with that crime.

Bristow said the arrest validates Sheriff Brad Steube’s contention that the rash of the home invasions in the county is tied to drugs.

“We’ve been saying for a while this was a drug-related deal,” Bristow said. “There was strong evidence to indicate that during the investigation.

“It’s unfortunate that a young girl and her baby were killed.”

According to a report in the Herald, sheriff’s office records show home invasion robberies in unincorporated Manatee County jumped 14 percent, from 69 in the first six months of 2008 to 79 in the same period this year.

Funsch was being held in the Manatee County jail on a $16,000 bond, facing charges of possession of marijuana with intent to sell, two counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

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