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Judge allows Layne trial to continue

By Katherine Wartell

Riley County District Judge Meryl Wilson agreed Wednesday to continue the first-degree murder trial of Michael Layne, accused of shooting and killing Steve Freel in December 2011.

Layne’s trial, which was originally scheduled for May, is now set for a September jury trial following the request of Layne’s attorney, Jillian Waesche, to waive Layne’s right to a speedy trial so that defense will have more time to prepare.

In February, Layne pleaded not guilty to the murder of Freel, whose body was found Dec. 7, 2011 on a dirt road in the 5300 block of N. 48th Street by a property owner in the area.

Riley County officers arrested Layne on the same day Freel’s body was found and alleged that the murder took place because relations between Layne and Freel, who were suspects in past burglaries in Manhattan, had soured.

Layne is also accused of aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery and kidnapping for his alleged role in a Dec. 6, 2011 break-in of a Manhattan woman’s apartment. In Layne’s preliminary hearing, the woman told the court that Layne and two female cohorts, Areale Hanks and Reyna Youdath, threatened her with a gun, bound her and stole various items from her residence.

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