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Archive for Saturday, April 26, 2003

Disbarred lawyer shot to death

April 26, 2003

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— A lawyer recently disbarred after drug charges and a standoff with police was shot to death outside the home of his former wife.

Matthew L. Cochran, 39, of Gardner, was shot about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. Cochran was found slumped against the steering wheel of his sport utility vehicle, which had pinned a parked car against the garage door of the house where his ex-wife was living with her boyfriend, Fredrick D. Walters.

Walters was charged Thursday with second-degree murder and held on $100,000 bond.

Police said they were looking for a witness to the shooting, Gary A. Freeman, who had been a client of Cochran's.

"We believe he can shed important light on the investigation," said police Capt. Michael Kobe.

In January Cochran was arrested at the Johnson County Courthouse in Olathe and charged with two counts of selling methamphetamine. He was released on $10,000 bond, and days later police responded to reports of gunshots at his home in Gardner.

Believing that Cochran had explosives, police evacuated nearby homes and a trailer park.

After a 3 1/2-hour standoff, Cochran emerged and was arrested. Police found a commercial firework in the house, and Cochran was charged with felony counts of criminal threat and criminal use of explosives. Again, he was released on bond.

Cochran then surrendered his law license voluntarily to the Kansas Supreme Court in January, and the court disbarred him. He had been scheduled to enter pleas in the cases against him on May 16, according to court records.

Cochran's attorney, John Gerstle, said he had been negotiating plea agreements that would have allowed him to receive substance-abuse treatment.

Gerstle said Cochran was a "sharp guy" but plagued by problems for which he was either unable or unwilling to get help.

Cochran's father, John Cochran, was a municipal judge in Baldwin until being suspended without pay in February after a confrontation with a Kansas City television crew.

The elder Cochran said he was angry because he was wrongly accused of falsifying a report to the state about his son when the younger man applied for his law license.

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