Trial date set for October for slain UM officer

Published 6:44 pm Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The University of Mississippi student accused in the dragging death of a campus police officer is scheduled to go on trail Oct. 15.

The capital murder trail of Daniel Reed Cummings will be held in Lafayette County Circuit Court. Cummings is accused of dragging Robert Langley with his vehicle after a routine traffic stop near the Oxford campus.

Langley reportedly stopped Cummings’ vehicle near Fraternity Row early Oct. 21 and approached the vehicle when the student allegedly sped away. Police say Langley was dragged some 200 yards.

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Langley, a 30-year-old Afghanistan war veteran and father of two sons and two stepdaughters, died of head injuries.

Cummings, of Germantown, Tenn., was charged with capital murder after an investigation by state and local agencies. Capital murder is the charge levied in Mississippi when a police officer is slain or when a murder is committed during the commission of another felony. It is punishable by death or life sentence.

Cummings was denied bond in November after District Attorney Ben Creekmore said the second-year freshman had alcohol, cocaine and marijuana in his system the morning Langley was killed.

Oxford Police Maj. Joseph East testified during the bond hearing that a bag with a green substance that appeared to be marijuana was found with Cummings.

Cummings was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. Authorities said he was arrested shortly after allegedly fleeing the scene.

Langley’s death brought an outpouring of support for his young family and even prompted state lawmakers to increase the death benefit for fallen law enforcement officers and firefighters.

The death benefit was increased from $40,000 to $65,000 during this year’s legislative session. The benefit is paid by the Law Enforcement Officers and Fire Fighters Death Benefits Trust Fund that is funded largely by an assessment attached to traffic violations. Currently, the fund has about $500,000 and brings in about $200,000 a year. Statistically, three to four officers die a year in the state.