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Suspect named in Lander homicide

Sep 26, 2012 - By Christina George, Staff Writer

John Hereford faces two first-degree murder charges in connection with the Sept. 11 incident.

Officials have confirmed the identity of the suspect being held in connection with the Sept. 11 homicide at a Lander residence.

Fremont County Attorney Brian Varn said John Hereford, 24, of Lander, faces two first-degree murder charges and a kidnapping charge in connection with the incident. Varn said Hereford remains in custody at the Fremont County Detention Center after a circuit court judge earlier this month denied setting bond.

Because of a non-disclosure order granted by Lander Circuit Court Judge Robert Denhardt the day of the homicide, information about Hereford and the charges against him have been withheld. His identity was discovered this week and confirmed by Varn, who said he did not violate the non-disclosure order by doing so.

The name of the shooting victim has yet to be released, but an obituary from the Davis Funeral Home in Riverton named 32-year-old Travis M. Armajo of Lander as having died in town on Sept. 11.

According to the non-disclosure order, prosecutors cite a Wyoming statute that restricts information about individuals involved in an alleged sexual assault. The order also prohibits the release of any charges about an alleged sexual assault.

Last week, Fremont County deputy attorney Patrick LeBrun said his office will ask that the restriction order be lifted once the case proceeds to District Court.

First-degree

According to electronic court records, Hereford was originally charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. Varn's office filed the amendment Thursday charing Hereford with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of kidnapping.

According to court records, the first-degree murder charges are pursuant to state statute 6-2-101a, which refers to killing that takes place with premeditated malice or in the perpetration of other crimes like sexual assault or burglary. The statute reads: "Whoever purposely and with premeditated malice, or in the perpetration of, or attempt to perpetrate, any sexual assault, sexual abuse of a minor, arson, robbery, burglary, escape, resisting arrest, kidnapping or abuse of a child under the age of sixteen (16) years, kills any human being is guilty of murder in the first degree."

Varn said Hereford appeared in court for an initial hearing earlier this month but will go before Judge Roberts again for the amended charges.

"He will have to be seen again on the new charges, and then he will have a preliminary hearing within 10 days," Varn said, adding that the non-disclosure order restricts the public from attending the hearings.

Varn said he doesn't anticipate filing additional charges.

"I think we whittled it down where it's appropriate," he said.

The Lander Police Department has taken the lead in the homicide investigation since officers were dispatched at 3:13 a.m. on Sept. 11 to 947 N. Second St. for a reported shooting.

Upon arrival, police located a deceased male with a single gunshot wound to the head lying in a pool of blood inside the residence.

Lander police chief Jim Carey said the suspect or the victim was renting the house, but declined to specify which one.

Although investigation has primarily focused on the residence on North Second Street, police also processed evidence from a vehicle and a house in the 800 block of Four Seasons Drive.

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