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First plea is 'not guilty' in Hudson homicides
Jul 6, 2012 - By Christina George, Staff Writer
The case against one of the five defendants in the November Hudson double-homicide will proceed to trial after he pleaded innocent in the killings of Eric Clinton Likes and Elva Charlotte Quiver.
Flanked by public defenders Jeremy Kisling and John DeLeon, Ryan Blake Hanway, 22, of Riverton, told Lander District Court Judge Norman E. Young during his arraignment on Thursday that he was not guilty of two counts of first-degree murder and a count of conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery.
Hanway has been in custody of the Fremont County Detention Center on a $1 million cash-only bond since he and four others were arrested in March for the November 2011 murders of Likes, 42, and Quiver, 20, and subsequent robbery and arson at the couple's Hudson trailer home.
Hanway sat quietly throughout his eight-minute arraignment on July 5, with the exception of a few, "yes, your honor," replies when Young asked a question.
After Young set Hanway's trial for Nov. 12 and court was adjourned, Hanway remained at the defense table, twirling around in his chair while his public defenders spoke with sheriff's deputies. Before being led out of the courtroom by three officers, Hanway paused to shake hands with DeLeon.
Hanway is the first of the five suspects to be arraigned in the case. His co-defendant, Joseph Jude Jenkins, 20, of Arapahoe, was expected in court on July 5 but his hearing was continued until September.
The other three defendants in the case have court hearings scheduled for August and September. They are Samantha June Hanway, 20, of Ethete, Jude Blackburn, 15, of Riverton, and Laziur Stephen Hanway Jr., 19, of Ethete.
According to charging documents, Ryan Hanway faces death, life in prison without parole, or life in prison if found guilty of a first-degree murder charge. The conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery charge, also a felony, carries a prison sentence of five to 25 years.
The bodies of Likes and Quiver were found on Nov. 17 after emergency personnel responded to their home that evening for a house fire. Autopsy reports revealed Likes and Quiver were deceased before the fire began and "died as the result of, but not limited to, numerous stab wounds."
Firefighters responded to the house fire at about 9:50 p.m. that evening and did not discover the bodies inside until 90 minutes later during the cleanup and investigation.
Originally, investigators believed the fire to be accidental, but blood found at the scene, including a blood-spotted cigarette lighter discovered in an alley near the trailer house, eventually led police to the first suspect, Laziur Hanway Jr.
It's alleged the murders occurred on Nov. 15 and some of the suspects returned to the scene two days later to set the trailer ablaze in an attempt to cover up the murders and robbery.
Prosecutors allege Ryan Hanway killed and/or aided and abetted in the couple's murder in the perpetration of a robbery.
According to court documents, it's also alleged on or between Nov. 10 and Nov. 17 of last year, Ryan Hanway agreed with one or more co-defendants that some of them would commit aggravated robbery and one or more of them did an "overt" act to carry out the objective of the agreement.
Court testimony during Ryan Hanway's preliminary hearing in April detailed what detectives believed was Ryan Hanway's role in the crimes.
It's alleged Ryan Hanway, on or before Nov. 13, was contacted by Jenkins and Laziur Hanway Jr. about joining the two in robbing and "roughing up" Likes.
According to investigators, Samantha Hanway was pregnant at the time with her husband Jenkins's baby, and the couple needed money to avoid being evicted.
Ryan Hanway reportedly agreed to the plan and assisted the group with scoping out the scene a few days prior to the Nov. 15 murders. Investigators think he coached the others on what to do, telling them to use guns but no cell phones and not to look directly into any cameras in the area.
According to court testimony, Ryan Hanway did not participate in the murders and robbery on Nov. 15 and subsequent arson on Nov. 17.
Ryan Hanway's attorney DeLeon argued that the scoping out his client was involved in was spontaneous and without a clear plan. He said the actions on Nov. 15 and Nov. 17 were not follow-up events of Nov. 13 but rather a new decision made by the others.