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Hudson suspect pleads guilty to second-degree murder charges
Feb 22, 2013 - By Christina George, Staff Writer
Laziur Stephen Hanway Jr. said he hesitated moments before he used a 3- or 4-inch black pocketknife to stab Elva Charlotte Quiver and Eric Clinton Likes to death at a Hudson trailer house the night of Nov. 15, 2011.
"Jude Blackburn came inside after Elva and Eric had gone to sleep," the 20-year-old Ethete man said. "Joe and Jude told me to take the lead and start off in stabbing them."
Hanway and his brother-in-law Joseph Jude Jenkins walked into the bedroom where Likes, 42, and Quiver, 20, slept, with a knife in hand. Blackburn stayed at the bedroom's door.
"I walked on to Elva's side of the bed," Hanway continued. "They told me to lead, but I hesitated."
The testimony was given during a 30-minute hearing Thursday in Lander's 9th Judicial District Court after Hanway pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder.
The pleas were part of an agreement filed jointly with amended charges. Hanway originally faced 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.
He pleaded not guilty to the original charges in August, and trial was later scheduled for May 20. Prosecutors previously took the death penalty off the table, but six of the charges were punishable by death, life in prison without parole or life in prison. The remaining five charges collectively could have added 95 years of prison.
Thursday's hearing was supposed to be about motions to suppress evidence and change of venue, but it became a change of plea meeting because of the agreement.
Second-degree murder carries a penalty of 20 years to life and a fine of up to $10,000.
But under the plea deal, which Young called "pretty direct and straight forward," Hanway would be sentenced to life in prison for each charge. If the court accepts the agreement, the sentences will run concurrently.
"Is that your agreement?" Young asked Hanway.
"Yes," he replied.
After going through Hanway's rights, Young repeatedly asked the defendant if he was certain this was what he wanted to do.
"Yes," Hanway said.
Young said he will sentence Hanway within 30 days. He also ordered a post sentence investigation and continued Hanway's $2 million cash-only bond.
Authorities discovered the bodies of Likes and Quiver after responding to a trailer house fire the night of Nov. 17, 2011. After an autopsy showed Likes and Quiver were deceased before the fire started, police launched an investigation that they remained tight-lipped about for several months.
Police were eventually led to Hanway by a "Zippo" type cigarette lighter a neighbor discovered near Likes's trailer house the night of the fire.
A forensic examination found a mixture of Likes's and another male's blood on the lighter. Investigators collected DNA samples from several individuals, including Likes's former employee, Laziur Stephen Hanway Sr.
Crime lab staff determined the unknown blood on the lighter belonged to one of the elder Hanway's sons. Laziur Hanway Jr. later volunteered to undergo a DNA cheek swab, and his DNA was determined to be a match for the DNA found on the lighter and in other areas of the crime scene.
On March 6, multiple law enforcement agencies conducted a search at Laziur Hanway Jr.'s residence on 17 Mile Road. Officers discovered an underground bunker on the property, which they described as a 4-by-5-foot cover, constructed of a frame of heavy timbers, and covered with wire and material that appeared to be an attempt to camouflage the bunker.
Inside the bunker, police found bloody clothing and items believed to have belonged to Likes. Laziur Hanway Jr. admitted the clothes were his and the blood belonged to him, Likes and Quiver.
Police found more belongings of the victims in a search of Laziur Hanway Jr.'s house.
Four other suspects were in custody for the crimes a week after Laziur Hanway Jr.'s March 8 arrest.
Part of Laziur Hanway Jr.'s guilty pleas was testimony about the crimes.
For more than 10 minutes, Laziur Hanway Jr., shackled in chains and wearing a bright orange jumpsuit, told Young about himself and what happened that night.
He said he was born in 1992, is unmarried without children and has a high school diploma and some college education.
Young then asked him to give an account of what happened the night of the double homicide.
After a long pause, Young suggested the defendant answer questions posed by his public defender, David L. Serelson.
Laziur Hanway Jr. said the situation started with his sister and her husband having money trouble.
"They were in the process of being evicted, and they came to me for help," he said.
He said the couple asked him to help them rob Likes, who they had seen the previous week with cash.
"Samantha and Joey stole a pickup and picked me up from my grandmother's house," he continued. "We (then) went to Jude Blackburn's grandma's house."
He said the intent behind traveling to Likes's rented trailer house in Hudson was to rob him. He added that he knew Likes after doing work for him a few weeks before the killings. He didn't really know Quiver.
"I had a pocket knife," he said when asked about weapons. "We had a bar."
He said the group didn't enter the trailer upon arrival, but eventually he and Jenkins did. Samantha Hanway and Blackburn remained in the pickup truck.
Laziur Hanway Jr. and Jenkins were in the house with Likes and Quiver for a couple of hours before Blackburn came inside.
In the bedroom where the couple slept, Laziur Hanway Jr. said he saw Likes wake up and Jenkins suddenly started cutting the victim with a kitchen knife.
"I went ahead and stabbed, ah, Elva," he said, recounting that he cut her in the neck and shoulder areas.
He described pulling Quiver to the edge of the bed. He then saw Likes hit Jenkins in the face, and Jenkins dropped his knife.
Likes asked Laziur Hanway Jr. to help him.
"At that point, he realized I wasn't going to help him," he said about Likes.
He said Likes then charged him, and he sliced Likes's neck. The two wrestled into the hallway.
Laziur Hanway Jr. testified that Blackburn approached Likes with a board as Likes lay in Laziur Hanway Jr.'s lap. Blackburn began hitting Likes in the head, Laziur Hanway Jr. continued, adding he stood still because he was afraid he would be hit.
He said once Blackburn "was done," they searched the house for money and left.
Laziur Hanway Jr., his sister and Jenkins returned to the trailer house two days later.
"Me and Joseph took a container of gas, of gasoline, and soaked the house with it," he said. "I lit a piece of newspaper on fire ... I threw it in the house and it blew up."
Laziur Hanway Jr.'s plea agreement is the fourth reached in the case.
Samantha Hanway faces 25 to 50 years behind bars after pleading guilty to two counts of aiding and abetting second-degree murder, and Jenkins faces 70 years to life for two counts of second-degree murder.
Laziur Hanway Jr.'s cousin, Ryan Hanway, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery. He faces 10 to 20 years in prison.
It is unknown what kind of sentence Blackburn faces. The case remains sealed because he was 15 years old at the time of the killings.