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Layne sentenced for murder

By Katherine Wartell

A district judge sentenced the Manhattan man accused of shooting and killing Steve Freel in December 2011 to 287 months, or roughly 24 years, in prison in Riley County District Court Thursday afternoon.

District Judge Meryl Wilson sentenced Michael Layne, 20, in accordance with a plea agreement Layne signed in November that recommended Layne receive 165 months for the second degree murder of Freel, 30, who was found dead from a gunshot wound to the chest on a rural road off of Tuttle Creek Boulevard on Dec. 7, 2011.

Wilson also sentenced Layne to 61 months for aggravated robbery and 61 months for kidnapping in relation to a Dec. 6, 2011 incident where Layne and two cohorts robbed a Manhattan woman at gunpoint.

As a part of his plea agreement, the original charge of first degree murder was amended to second degree murder and four counts related to the aggravated robbery were dropped. Those counts were conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, felony theft and misdemeanor theft.

Freel’s sister, Lisa Freel, spoke at the sentencing, telling Layne that he has a long road ahead of him and that she feels sorry for him.

According to prosecutors, Layne drove Freel to the 5300 block of N. 48th Street on Dec. 6, 2011, where he forced Freel out of the car and shot him with a .45-caliber handgun. Riley County detectives have stated that troubles arose between the two following an investigation into past crimes they allegedly committed together in the Manhattan area.

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