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Prosecutors not seeking death penalty for teen in Hudson case

Aug 24, 2012 - By Christina George, Staff Writer

Prosecutors said Thursday in court they are not seeking the death penalty for one of the defendants accused in the November slaying of a Hudson couple.

"For the record, the state will not be seeking the death penalty," said Fremont County deputy attorney Patrick LeBrun.

The announcement was made at the conclusion of an arraignment in Lander's 9th District Court where 19-year-old Laziur Stephen Hanway Jr. pleaded not guilty to his charges.

Hanway and four co-defendants are charged with the killings of Eric Clinton Likes, 42, and his girlfriend, Elva Charlotte Quiver, 20, and subsequent robbery and arson at the couple's trailer home in Hudson.

Other suspects in the case face charges that could be punished by death, but prosecutors have publicly stated they would not seek the death penalty in the case against Hanway.

Judge Norman E. Young set a trial for Nov. 12, which is the same day Hanway's co-defendant and cousin Ryan Blake Hanway's trial is scheduled.

It took Young nearly 10 minutes to read through a three-page document outlining the 11 charges against Laziur Hanway Jr.

He faces four first-degree murder charges, two counts each of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, aggravated robbery and conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery, and a single arson charge.

According to court documents, two of the first-degree murder charges allege he purposely and with premeditated malice killed Likes and Quiver. The other two murder charges allege he killed the couple in the perpetration of a robbery.

The investigation

Laziur Hanway Jr. was arrested March 8 for the murders. His arrest followed months of investigation that began when first responders received a call the night of Nov. 17 about an explosion and subsequent fire at a residence on South Ohio Avenue in Hudson.

Firefighters found the two victims' bodies inside the trailer after putting out the blaze. Autopsies revealed the two were dead before their home went up in flames and that they "died as the result of, but not limited to, numerous stab wounds."

Blood found at the crime scene and a blood-spotted cigarette lighter discovered in an alley near the trailer house eventually led police to Laziur Hanway Jr.

According to police and court documents, evidence linking him to the crimes was also found inside an underground bunker on Laziur Hanway Jr.'s property and inside his home on 17 Mile Road.

Less than a week later, on March 12, authorities made two more arrests in the case, capturing Joseph Jude Jenkins, 20, of Arapahoe, and Samantha June Hanway, 20, of Ethete, at a Fort Washakie residence. Samantha Hanway, who is now 21 years old, is Laziur Hanway Jr.'s sister and Jenkins' wife.

Two days later, police arrested two more suspects in the case, Ryan Hanway, 22, and Jude Blackburn, 15, both of Riverton.

Blackburn, who has since turned 16, is charged as an adult, but his attorneys are in the process of trying to get the case transferred to juvenile court.

According to court documents outlining police interviews with some of the suspects, Laziur Hanway Jr. stabbed Quiver while she and Likes were asleep in bed.

Jenkins was allegedly stabbing Likes, but Likes was able to fend him off and tried to help his girlfriend. According to documents, Laziur Hanway Jr. then began stabbing Likes as Jenkins attacked Likes with a wooden block.

Laziur Hanway Jr. is accused of robbing the couple and returning to the scene two days later and setting fire to the home in an attempt to cover up the crimes.

Thursday's hearing

Supporters for both Laziur Hanway Jr. and the victims attended the 30-minute hearing. Laziur Hanway Jr.'s public defender David L. Serelson, of Cheyenne, was also present.

At the beginning of the hearing, Young addressed a motion filed by attorneys representing the Department of Family Services asking to halt the defense's subpoena for all DFS files pertaining to abuse or neglect allegations against the guardians or parents of Laziur Hanway Jr.

Wyoming Attorney General's Office student intern Carly Anderson represented DFS, and Serelson's co-counsel Elizabeth Lance argued on the defense's behalf. Both attorneys made their arguments at the hearing by telephone.

According to court documents, the DFS felt that state law only allows for such records to be released if they are applicable to the purpose of child protection. Anderson said DFS has no authority to release the records without a court order.

Lance argued that because of the severity of the case it was counsel's duty to seek any and all records that could be used for the defense.

While she understands confidentiality issues, Lance said the records sought pertain to Laziur Hanway Jr. and not other children.

"We're seeking his own records," she added. "There's great need to receive these."

Young denied the motion, saying the records relating to the defendant were appropriate and critical for his attorneys to access.

"This is a very serious first-degree murder case," Young said.

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