FORT WAYNE – A man accused of beating another man to death last week during a night of drinking was arrested Friday on a preliminary charge of involuntary manslaughter, according to Fort Wayne police.
Detectives built a case against Steven L. Lemler, 28, using accounts from at least six people, including some who witnessed Lemler pummeling the victim, 42-year-old Kirk D. Lecount, after he was knocked out, according to a probable cause affidavit.
This investigation progressed quickly due to the immediate and overwhelming cooperation of the neighborhood, and due to eyewitness information, officer Raquel Foster, a police spokeswoman, said in written statement.
Lemler and Lecount were drinking with a group of people the night of July 17 in the backyard of a house on High Street on the city’s near-northwest side, according to the affidavit.
A witness told police Lemler became irritated with Lecount after getting the impression that Lecount had disrespected a woman at the gathering. Lemler then attacked Lecount, punching him in the face and knocking him out, the affidavit stated.
A second witness told police he picked up Lecount, who was still out cold, and set him in a blue recliner near the alley behind the house. As Lecount sat unconscious in the recliner, Lemler punched him two or three more times in the face, and blood started coming from Lecount’s mouth. Lemler also threw a red cooler at Lecount, hitting him in the head, the affidavit said.
For Lecount’s safety, the second witness and another man took Lecount to his own yard down the street at 1707 High St. At that point, Lecount was out of it but alive, the second witness told police.
After the beating, Lemler spent the night with a woman, different from the one he thought was disrespected. She told investigators that Lemler told her he had been in a fight with Lecount, saying I would never kill someone, but I would (expletive) someone up though, according to the affidavit.
Early the next morning, a neighbor reported that Lecount was lying facedown in his yard. Paramedics arrived and pronounced him dead. An autopsy revealed that he died from blunt-force injuries to the head, the affidavit said.
In an interview with police, Lemler acknowledged drinking with Lecount but denied beating him up, according to the affidavit. Lemler, who lives on the same block that Lecount did, was being held Friday evening at the Allen County Jail in lieu of $10,000 bail.
Lecount’s death was the 26th homicide this year in Allen County. Including his case, arrests have been made in six of the killings. Four of the homicides were the result of shootings by city police. One of the men killed by officers, Kenneth Knight, pulled a woman from a bus and fatally shot her March 20, police said. As a result, that case is considered cleared.
Last year, there were 30 homicides in the county.