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Man apologizes for girlfriend's dangling death

/ Source: The Associated Press

A man accused of homicide after his girlfriend fell to her death from the window of his 23rd-floor apartment told the woman’s family in court Tuesday that he was sorry.

“I apologize. I’m so, so sorry for what happened,” Kevin P. Eckenrode said Tuesday, shortly after a judge set bail at $200,000.

He was released later in the day, an official at Dauphin County Prison confirmed.

Eckenrode, 25, has told police he was dangling Rachel M. Kozlusky, 23, from the window Feb. 25 during drunken horseplay when he lost his grip. Kozlusky fell to her death through a skylight on the Harrisburg high-rise’s portico.

Dauphin County First Assistant District Attorney Fran Chardo said investigators have not turned up evidence to support first- or second-degree murder charges, making Eckenrode eligible for release. He is charged with general criminal homicide as the investigation continues.

“While it’s not the best circumstance, it is the law, so we have to respect it,” Chardo said afterward.

Judge Richard A. Lewis told Eckenrode he must stay drug- and alcohol-free and submit to testing, enroll in an alcohol-treatment program within two weeks, report regularly to court officials and comply with a 10 p.m. curfew.

Defense lawyer William Costopoulos said Eckenrode, whose blood-alcohol level was measured at 0.256 percent a few hours after police arrived at the scene, needs counseling for alcohol and for his grief.

Costopoulos said the two had decided to get engaged shortly before she died.

He said Eckenrode considered calling the woman’s family earlier to apologize but felt placing a collect call, as required in jail, would have been inappropriate.

“This kid’s in a lot of pain, and he wanted to apologize,” Costopoulos said.