Dec 7, 2012 - By Christina George, Staff WriterJoseph Jude Jenkins can't recall much about the November 2011 killings of Eric Likes and Elva Quiver, a couple he told a judge Thursday he met once before stabbing them to death.
Part of the memory issue, Jenkins said, is the alcohol he consumed that evening, which according to prior testimony from an investigator was two fifths of Captain Morgan rum.
"I was drinking a lot, and it's something I barely remember," the 20-year-old Arapahoe man testified.
Jenkins appeared in Lander's 9th Judicial District Court Dec. 6 and pleaded guilty to two counts of aiding and abetting second-degree murder stemming from the Nov. 15, 2011, killings of Likes, 42, and his girlfriend, Quiver, 20, at Likes's rented trailer house in Hudson.
Jenkins originally pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of mental illness or deficiency to 11 charges, including first-degree murder during his arraignment in August.
A not guilty by mental illness plea is a specific subset of a not guilty plea and brings Jenkins's mental health into issue in that he was either incompetent at the time of the crimes or is now incompetent to proceed to trial.
Jenkins's guilty plea on Thursday was part of an agreement that, if accepted by the court, dismisses other charges and lowers his prison sentence.
"It's rather short and succinct," District Court Judge Norman E. Young said about the plea deal.
Normally, aiding and abetting second-degree murder carries a prison term of between 20 years and life. But under the agreement, Jenkins faces 70 years to life for each count. The sentences would run concurrently.
Jenkins will be sentenced at a later date after his four co-defendants are. The plea deal also stipulates Jenkins will have proffer meetings with law enforcement and may be asked to testify at court proceedings relating to his co-defendants' cases.
Young continued Jenkins's $2 million bond that was set after his March arrest.
If the court rejects the agreement, Jenkins can withdraw his pleas and prosecutors can proceed to sentencing as if no agreement was in place.
Nearly 30 minutes of Thursday's hearing involved Jenkins's detailing his participation in the crimes.
Jenkins said he had only met Likes and Quiver one time before the murders. He said the father of his wife and co-defendant, Samantha Hanway, brought Likes to a trailer house where Jenkins was staying to drink. Jenkins also met Quiver that evening.
He said the robbery plot started with his brother-in-law and co-defendant, Laziur Stephen Hanway Jr., whom Jenkins referred to at the hearing as "Stephen."
Jenkins testified his brother-in-law approached him a few weeks prior to the incident and asked Jenkins if he wanted to rob someone. Jenkins said he told Laziur Hanway Jr. no because he had a job at McDonald's, his wife was employed, and the couple were expecting their first child.
Since then, Jenkins said, he and his wife lost their jobs and were facing eviction, and he changed his mind about a robbery.
"I asked Stephen if he was serious about robbing someone," Jenkins told the court.
Knew he had money
Jenkins said he targeted Likes because he didn't care for Likes and knew Likes had money.
According to court documents and testimony from previous hearings, the group had set out to rob Likes on or about Nov. 13, 2011.
Jenkins said he, his wife, brother-in-law and a fourth co-defendant Ryan Blake Hanway (Myers) went to Hudson to "beat them up, tie them up, and ask them where their money was."
"We got scared," Jenkins continued, "so we left."
Facing eviction at the end of the week, Jenkins said he decided to make a second robbery attempt, which, according to court documents, occurred on Nov. 15, 2011.
"I bought some alcohol, and I told Stephen that I really needed the money and I had to do it," he recalled.
Jenkins said he, his wife and brother-in-law felt they needed a fourth person to assist, so they picked up Jenkins's nephew and co-defendant, Jude Blackburn, who was 15 years old at the time.
According to court documents, Likes invited Laziur Hanway Jr. and Jenkins inside his home after the two claimed they were stranded.
Jenkins testified remembering little about what happened next. He said some of the group took items such as chains aws and other tools from the residence while the couple slept in the bedroom.
"They were alive," Jenkins said.
After the items were taken outside to the vehicle where Samantha Hanway was, Jenkins said he and Laziur Hanway Jr. returned to the residence to get money. He said Laziur Hanway Jr. was standing on Quiver's side of the bed and Jenkins was on Likes's side when Likes awoke.
"Eric woke up, and he asked us what are we doing, and I hit him," Jenkins told the court.
He recalled a struggle with Likes and hearing Quiver screaming from being attacked by Laziur Hanway Jr.
Jenkins said at first he used his fists to hit Likes and at some point he began stabbing Likes with a "regular kitchen knife." He believes he stabbed Likes fewer than 10 times.
Jenkins reiterated his limited recollection of what happened.
"Stephen is the one who told me about the stuff that happened," Jenkins said.
Young asked when the struggle ended.
"He (Likes) hit me, and I dropped the knife and he called for Stephen to help," Jenkins replied.
Jenkins recalled some of the attack, including Laziur Hanway Jr. stabbing Likes in the neck and Jenkins stabbing Likes in the chest.
"And I blacked out," Jenkins said, adding when he came to he was standing by Quiver with a knife in his hand.
"What happened next?" Young asked.
"I don't remember ... they were both on the ground. and I threw up," Jenkins replied.
"Were they dead?" Young asked.
"I believe so," Jenkins responded.
Young then asked a series of questions about the fire set at Likes's trailer house on Nov. 17, 2011 investigators said was intentionally set to cover up the other crimes.
Jenkins said the others later told him Laziur Hanway Jr. had turned on the burners the night of the murders but it didn't start a fire.
Realizing the bodies had not yet been found, Jenkins said Ryan Hanway told the others they needed to go back to the scene.
Jenkins, his wife and Laziur Hanway Jr. drove to Hudson with a can of gasoline.
Laziur Hanway Jr. entered the house alone and then returned to the vehicle. He and Jenkins went back to the house while Samantha Hanway waited in the car.
"I poured the gas, and Stephen lit it," Jenkins said. "The burners were on so, you know, it went instant."
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