District Judge Paul Miller denied a motion Thursday to suppress statements Justin Taylor made to police in August following his arrest for the death of Kevin Cockrum, a 31-year-old former combat medic who was found unconscious in an alleyway in Aggieville on Aug. 11.
In a November preliminary hearing, prosecutors alleged that Taylor, 24, charged with second degree murder, killed Cockrum with two hard blows to the head with Cockrum’s own flashlight while Cockrum lie unconscious in an Aggieville alleyway from a previous blow inflicted by Levertis Horne, another Manhattan man who was with Taylor the night Cockrum was killed. In that hearing, Horne said the two men had gotten into an altercation with Cockrum after Horne had called the woman Cockrum was with an expletive.
Horne was initially charged with aiding and abetting second degree murder, but the charges were dropped due to what officials called insufficient evidence.
In Thursday’s hearing, Larry McRell, Taylor’s attorney, argued that Taylor was not in a fit state of mind to fully understand his Miranda rights during a police interview following Taylor’s August arrest.
In court, Taylor testified that he was under the influence of alcohol during the interview and that he has a history of alcohol abuse stemming from past mental and physical trauma.
Assistant County Attorney Barry Disney argued that Taylor was adequately read his rights and told to initial after each point to show comprehension. Miller sided with the prosecution, stating Taylor “voluntarily, intelligently and knowingly waived his rights,” giving the prosecution the ability to use the statements Taylor made in August as evidence in Taylor’s trial.
If convicted of second-degree murder, Taylor could face 12 to 53 years in prison and a fine up to $300,000. McRell requested a four-day jury trial set to begin Jan. 31.