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Indy 500 Murder Suspect Released After Line-up Snafu

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AVORY JOHNSON
This photo provided by the Speedway Police Department shows 19-year-old Avory Johnson of Indianapolis. Johnson was arrested in the death of 25-year-old Max Levine of Kokomo,Ind., Speedway Police Lt. Trent Theobald said in a news release, Saturday, May 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Speedway Police Department) | ASSOCIATED PRESS

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — 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.

Johnson is still considered a suspect in Saturday's shooting death of Max Levine, 25, of Kokomo 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, Theobald said.

"Witnesses of crimes are to be kept separately from one another," he said.

No phone number for Johnson was listed in the Indianapolis area and The Associated Press could not reach him for comment.

Levine's mother, Janice Bickel, had said her son had gone camping in the Coke Lot with a group of friends from Kokomo, about 50 miles north of Indianapolis. Bickel said she wanted people to remember her son Max for the good things he did, not for the way he died around 2 a.m. Saturday.

"Max is not a vengeful person, and he never was," Bickel told The Indianapolis Star.

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, a series of sprawling grass lots where thousands of fans have camped out and partied on race weekend for years.

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Follow Charles D. Wilson on Twitter: https://twitter.com/_cdwilson

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