Manhattan Man Charged In Murder Case Released

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Manhattan, KAN. (WIBW) -- A man accused of taking part in a murder in Manhattan's Aggieville District has been let go.

Officials say they don't have enough evidence against Levertis Horne. Horne had been behind bars for a day on the charge of Aiding Second Degree Murder.

On Wednesday, Riley County investigators arrested 24-year-old Justin Taylor and charged him with Second Degree Murder in the death of 31-year-old Kevin Cockrum.

Shortly after announcing Taylor's arrest, the Riley County Police Department revealed that Horne, 20, had also been arrested.

Cockrum, a former Army combat medic, was brutally beaten in Manhattan's Aggieville district last Thursday and died from severe head injuries the next day.

Captain J. Hooper, who oversees the Riley County Police Department's Investigative Division, released the following statement Thursday afternoon: "Since 08-11-2011 the Riley County Police Department has been investigating the attack on and subsequent death of Kevin Lynn Cockrum. The investigation into this matter has proven to be both complex and fluid. Many leads were followed and multiple interviews were conducted. On 08-17-2011 Detectives arrested 2 individuals believed to be involved in this incident. As the investigation progressed it became apparent that sufficient evidence no longer existed to support the charge of Aiding 2nd Degree Murder against Levertis Lee Horne. After consulting with the Riley County Attorney’s Office the decision has been made to not pursue charges against Mr. Horne at this time. As permitted by Kansas Law he has subsequently been unarrested and released from custody. "

Officials say when Horne was first brought in for questioning, he refused to say anything about the case and officers believed they had enough probable cause to charge him. After he was arrested, Horne contacted investigators and gave them a very detailed statement pertaining to his involvement in the attack. According to officials, he provided them with specific information that matched physical evidence and witness statements and they no longer had probable cause.

Earlier this week, police announced that they found the white car witnesses saw speeding away near the scene of the crime. The Mazda, originally thought to be a Lexus, was captured on surveillance cameras in Aggieville and it led officers to the owner, Justin Taylor.

"The investigation has revealed that both of the suspects were actually in the white car that we had been looking for the previous few days. This incident was initiated by a verbal confrontation between the three individuals which led to a physical confrontation which led to the death of Mr. Cockrum," said Lieutenant Richard Fink, the Riley County Police Department's spokesman during an interview Wednesday after Taylor and Horne's arrests had been announced.

Fink says Cockrum was walking in an alley way between Bluemont Avenue and Moro Street and Taylor and Horne were in Taylor's car when words were exchanged and the fight started. He could not say what initially sparked the disagreement. Fink does not believe the three men knew one another before the deadly encounter in Aggieville. He calls the beating "a totally random act."

Justin Taylor is being held in the Riley County Jail on $250,000 bond.

A military funeral was held for Kevin Cockrum Thursday in his home state of Alabama.

When asked if Horne would face any charges since he was there when the attack happened, Lieutenant Fink responded: "The investigation is ongoing." He says he does not expect there to be any other arrests in the case. Despite initial reports that there were three men in the car, he says it was only Taylor and Horne.