Murder investigations can take surprise turns

Published: 23 April 2008

Many jagged edges can be mapped in the journey from a crime being committed to a felon being sent to prison for a long time, Deputy Salina Police Chief Carson Mansfield said Tuesday.

The probe into the April 16 murder of Mark Simpson found its first dead end this past weekend when the focus on suspect Nathaniel Ervin, 36, Lincoln, who was arrested hours after the shooting, abruptly dimmed.

“We started getting information that pointed to somebody else,” Mansfield said.

Ervin was arrested “on probable cause” in connection with the shooting death of Simpson, 38, as he stood in the street in the 500 block of South 10th Street at about 2:30 a.m. April 16.

After investigators met with Saline County Attorney Ellen Mitchell and Ervin’s attorney, Christopher Joseph, Topeka, Ervin was released from the Saline County Jail Son unday night.

New information in the case moved the cloud of suspicion to other suspects, Mansfield said.

“When that happened, the probable cause became less for Ervin and became stronger for someone else,” he said.

Monday morning, arrest warrants were issued, charging Cameron Alyn Nelson, 19, with first-degree murder and Kashif “Cash” O. Wilson, 20, with aiding a felon.

Police were fielding calls, conducting interviews and following leads Tuesday, Mansfield said, but there were no arrests.

Anyone spotting Nelson or Wilson are asked to call 911 or the police at 826-7210 and provide a description of what they’re wearing, a license tag number if they’re in a vehicle and their direction of travel — “but only if it’s safe to do so,” Mansfield said.

Joseph told the Journal on Monday that Ervin was “terribly aggrieved” over the “public announcement of his guilt by the police chief.”

Mansfield would not comment on Joseph’s statements. He said Ervin’s arrest was part of the process of finding Simpson’s killer.

“Probable cause requires a reasonable belief, based on reliable evidence, that the suspect has committed a crime. It must go beyond mere suspicion or a policeman’s educated hunch,” Mansfield said. “On the other hand, it is less than absolute certainty. The evidence we need to make a valid arrest doesn’t have to amount to proof of guilt. If must show the suspect has probably committed a crime.”

The deputy chief said all of those conditions were met with Nathaniel Ervin.

“He was arrested on probable cause,” Mansfield said.

Salina Journal

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