Aug 30, 2012 - By Christina George, Staff WriterA co-defendant in the Hudson double homicide pleaded not guilty by reason of mental illness or deficiency to the alleged crimes during his arraignment Tuesday.
Public defender Tina N. Olson, of Cheyenne, also entered a not guilty plea for her client, Joseph Jude Jenkins, 20, of Arapahoe, to all 11 charges including first-degree murder of Eric Clinton Likes, 42, and his girlfriend Elva Charlotte Quiver, 20.
Ninth District Court Judge Norman E. Young ordered Jenkins to undergo an examination at the Wyoming State Hospital in Evanston, and a report will be provided to the court concerning the results.
Fremont County Attorney Brian Varn said that a plea of not guilty by mental illness is a specific subset of a not guilty plea. Varn said it brings a defendant's mental health into issue in that he was either incompetent at the time of the crime or is now incompetent to proceed to trial.
Varn said either way, all proceedings are halted until the defendant's mental health is evaluated by the state hospital. When the examination is done, depending on the results, prosecutors or the defense can challenge the results and hire an expert to conduct another.
At the hearing, Fremont County Deputy Attorney Patrick LeBrun told the court that prosecutors would not seek the death penalty in the case against Jenkins, and he asked that the $2 million bond previously set for Jenkins be continued.
Family members of the defendant as well as of both victims attended the 20-minute hearing Aug. 28 in Lander. Quiet fell over the courtroom as Young read through the charging documents.
Jenkins faces four counts of first-degree murder, two counts each of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, aggravated robbery, conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery, and a single arson charge.
Before the hearing concluded, Young also set Jenkins' trial for Jan. 22, 2013.
Young said he plans to move the Nov. 12 trials for two other defendants in the case to Jan. 22, 2013, so the hearings could occur around the same time.
Co-defendants Laziur Stephen Hanway Jr., 19, of Ethete, and Ryan Blake Hanway, 22, of Riverton, pleaded innocent to the crimes at previous hearings.
A fourth suspect, Samantha June Hanway, 21, of Ethete, is expected to plead guilty to two counts of aiding and abetting second-degree murder at a September hearing as part of a plea agreement that dismisses other charges. Samantha Hanway is Jenkins' wife and Laziur Hanway Jr.'s sister.
The final suspect in the case is Jude Blackburn, 16, of Riverton. The teen is charged as an adult, but his attorneys are in the process of trying to get the case transferred to juvenile court.
Likes' and Quiver's bodies were discovered Nov. 17 in the couple's charred trailer house in Hudson after firefighters extinguished flames that consumed the home. According to autopsy reports, the two were dead before their home went up in flames, and they "died as the result of, but not limited to, numerous stab wounds."
Jenkins and his wife were arrested in March a few days after evidence linked the first suspect, Laziur Hanway Jr., to the murders and subsequent robbery and arson.
According to court documents, Laziur Hanway Jr. told police that a few days before the fire, he accompanied his sister and Jenkins to the Hudson home.
"On their arrival in Hudson, Samantha Hanway dropped off J. Jenkins and Hanway Jr. and waited for them," charging documents stated. "Prior to approaching the residence the group had made the decision to rob E. Likes and E. Quiver, and then kill E. Likes and E. Quiver to conceal the crime."
Jenkins and Laziur Hanway Jr. allegedly went to the home where Likes let them enter after they told him they needed to use the telephone. According to court documents, the three smoked marijuana and Likes invited them to stay the night.
"Hanway Jr. stated after E. Likes went to bed, he and J. Jenkins left the Likes/Quiver residence and walked back to their vehicle, where S. Hanway was waiting, to 'build up courage,'" court documents read.
Jenkins and Laziur Hanway Jr. allegedly returned to the trailer house and entered the bedroom where the couple was sleeping. There, investigators say the two men began stabbing the victims.
"E. Likes was able to fend off J. Jenkins and then attempted to assist E. Quiver as she was being attacked" by Laziur Hanway Jr., documents stated. "Hanway Jr. then began to stab E. Likes as J. Jenkins attacked E. Likes with a wooden block. E. Quiver and E. Likes succumbed to their injuries."
After the two died, Jenkins and some co-defendants allegedly went through the house and stole numerous valuables.
Two days later, Jenkins, his wife and his brother-in-law allegedly returned to the crime scene. Jenkins is accused of pouring gasoline on the bodies and throughout the residence as part of the group's effort to conceal the crimes by setting the trailer house ablaze.
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