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Suspect says 'not guilty' to killing in September

Dec 12, 2012 - From staff reports

Second-degree murder suspect Dustin Nickelson entered a not-guilty plea during his arraignment Tuesday in Lander District Court.

Nickelson, 23, has been in custody on a $1 million bond since Sept. 13, when he was arrested in connection with the shooting death of Lucas Myhre, 27, of Riverton. The shooting reportedly took place at about 9:30 p.m. in front of Nickelson's apartment at 811 E. Adams Ave. in Riverton.

Nickelson's girlfriend is listed as a witness in the incident, but defense attorney Stephen Palmer requested that the two be allowed to have phone contact while Nickelson is incarcerated. He added that their conversations could be recorded to ensure they do not discuss the case.

"They have some matters to clear up," Palmer said. "They had been living together."

Prosecutors for the state opposed the request, citing a need to maintain the integrity of the case against someone charged with taking a human life. Judge Norman E. Young continued Nickelson's bond as it was previously structured.

Background

Autopsy reports showed that Myhre was under the influence of methamphetamines at the time of his death. The autopsy also determined that seven bullets had struck Myhre's body, causing 18 wounds to his head, arms, shoulder, back, thigh and body cavity. Nickelson reportedly told police at the scene that he had "fired on" Myhre eight times with his SAR .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol.

Police said Myhre had intended to visit Nickelson's neighbor Sept. 13 but had knocked on Nickelson's door accidentally. Nickelson reportedly "pulled a gun on" Myhre at that point, and Myhre went next-door.

Nickelson reportedly followed soon afterward, knocking on the neighbor's door "loudly" and asking who Myhre was. Police said Nickelson was holding the gun at that point, and he reportedly said Myhre need to "chill ... out." Nickelson and Myhre reportedly exchanged words, and Myhre pushed Nickelson before others in the apartment intervened.

Nickelson reportedly left, and Myhre went outside to speak with three people who had been waiting for him in a vehicle. According to reports, he told the occupants of the vehicle about his encounter with Nickelson and asked if they wanted to see "a guy get beat up."

Myhre reportedly returned to Nickelson's apartment and apologized to Nickelson, then "called him on" to fight outside of the apartment. Myhre reportedly said he would take Nickelson's gun, and Nickelson said he did not want to go outside and fight. Officers said Myhre took a "step in an aggression act towards" Nickelson as Nickelson was standing inside of the apartment building. Nickelson reportedly removed the safety lock from his weapon and fired the gun.

Officers said Myhre was lying facedown on the sidewalk in front of the steps to Nickelson's apartment when they arrived at the scene. Responders reportedly tried for 10 minutes to resuscitate Myhre, who showed no signs of life. Medical personnel confirmed at the scene that he had died, according to court documents.

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