A Manhattan man’s first degree murder trial has been continued, following a motions hearing in Riley County district court Wednesday afternoon. Michael Layne, 20, is now set for a September jury trial in connection with the December 2011 murder of Steve Freel, whose body was discovered on a dirt road north of Manhattan.
Layne had faced a May first trial, but Judge Meryl Wilson agreed to continue it with defense attorney Jillian Waesche-Seaton asking for a waiver to Layne’s right to a speedy trial. Waesche-Seaton indicated a need for more time to prepare Layne’s defense. Layne had entered a plea of not guilty February 21st. He also faces charges of aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery, and kidnapping.
Judge Wilson reminded the defendant of his rights, but decided the defendant had knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily asked for the continuance. The anticipated four day trial has been moved to September fourth through seventh, which Wilson pointed out is well beyond the 90 day speedy trial provision.
Meanwhile, an April 20th pre-trial evidentiary hearing in the matter will proceed as originally scheduled.
Freel’s body was found Dec. 7 in the 5200 block of N. 48th Street. Riley County Police have said they believe Freel and Layne committed several armed robberies together but had an argument that led to Freel being driven to the rural area where he was found and shot.