crimesider

Charges dropped against man accused of murder near Indy 500

Avory Johnson, 19, was arrested Saturday on a preliminary murder charge for allegedly shooting and killing 25-year-old Max Levine in Speedway, Ind.

CBS affiliate WISH

INDIANAPOLIS - Citing a tainted police lineup, authorities have dropped a preliminary murder charge against a man accused in a deadly shooting near the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on the eve of the Indy 500.

Avory Johnson, 19, was released shortly before 3 p.m. Tuesday, Marion County Jail spokesman Julio Fernandez said.

"Due to significant inconsistencies in the identification of the suspect, criminal charges will not be filed at this time," read a statement sent by the Marion County Prosecutor's Office, according to CBS affiliate WISH. "Deputy prosecutors are continuing to work with the Speedway Police Department on this on-going investigation."

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Max Levine, 25, of Kokomo, Ind., was shot and killed early Saturday morning outside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
CBS affiliate WISH

Johnson is still considered a suspect in Saturday's shooting death of Max Levine, 25, of Kokomo, Ind., in a grassy field where fans park and camp out near the track, Speedway Police Department Lt. Trent Theobald said.

Witnesses who were supposed to be kept separate before the police line-up were mistakenly allowed to mix, tainting the identification. "Witnesses of crimes are to be kept separately from one another," Theobald said.

"The Speedway Police regret that this error occurred but remain confident in the work of investigators," the department said in a news release, WISH reports.

The victim's mother, Jan Levine, told the station that the news of Johnson's released "deflated" her family. She said her son had gone camping in the Coke Lot - a series of sprawling grass lots where thousands of fans have camped out and partied on race weekend for years - with a group of friends from Kokomo, about 50 miles north of Indianapolis.

"I want people to remember the love, joy, happiness and laughter of my son and let that wrap around them and carry them through this, because that's what we're doing," Jan Levine told WISH.

Police said the killing followed an argument.

A day later in the same lot, multiple people approached two men after 2 a.m. Sunday and one man was beaten and had his personal items stolen, Theobald said. He said the suspects fled and the second man chased them, but was shot. Both injured men were hospitalized.

Police have not released the men's identities and their conditions were not available Wednesday morning.

In a separate incident Sunday, an Indianapolis man told The Associated Press he was jumped by several young men and pistol-whipped at a makeshift bar in the Coke Lot.