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Girlfriends testify in Soto trial

By Katherine Wartell

A Manhattan man accused of aiding and abetting first-degree murder appeared in Riley County District Court Tuesday for the second day of his trial.

Domingo Soto, 42, is charged with providing Michael Layne, 20, the firearm that Layne is accused of using to allegedly kill Steve Freel, 31, whose body was found on Dec. 7, 2011 on a rural road near the 5300 block of N. 48th St.

On Tuesday, the state, represented by Assistant County Attorneys Barry Disney and Wes Garrison, called the girlfriends of both Layne and Freel to the stand to share their versions of what happened on Dec. 6, 2011, the day Freel was murdered.

Prosecutors are alleging that Layne drove Freel to the rural road on that day, then forced him out of the car and shot him.

On that day, Freel’s girlfriend, whose first name is Nicole, said she and Freel had gone over to Layne’s residence, where Freel went inside to discuss buying a gun from Layne.

She said they returned to her apartment and while they were walking to her door, Layne pulled up in a car, which Freel subsequently entered.

She said Freel called after 3 p.m. to tell her the two were on their way back and asked her to pick him up at Layne’s. She said that was the last call she received from Freel.

Layne’s girlfriend, whose first name is Harley, said she witnessed the exchange that Freel and Layne had in Layne’s residence. She said Freel seemed jittery and was egging Layne on to help him find a gun.

The state also called Reyna Youdath, 19, to the stand. Youdath was sentenced to 28 months in prison in May after she pleaded guilty to an aggravated robbery allegedly committed with Layne in the early morning hours of Dec. 6.

On Tuesday, Youdath detailed for the court several statements she said Layne made to her after Freel’s death.

Youdath, who said the two shared an interest in drugs, said she stayed at Layne’s house the night of Freel’s murder. She testified that Layne told her about the murder and said he showed her the handgun he used. She said he also drove her out to where he had dumped Freel’s body.

She testified that they went to Soto’s house where Soto took the handgun from them, inspected it and put it away.

She told the court the she has the seen the gun at his house before.

Their testimony Tuesday morning followed jury selection on Monday. Soto’s trial is scheduled to last through Friday.









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