A Lincoln County, Wyo., judge has denied defense motions to dismiss murder conspiracy charges against two Utah men in the 1979 death of grand jury witness Jeffrey Green.
Judge Frank Zebre denied the defense motions and set April 25 as the date for defense attorneys to start presenting their cases in the preliminary hearings for Alvin Russell III, 35, and Todd Hall, 45, both of Salt Lake City.The preliminary hearing will determine whether sufficient evidence exists to send the cases to state district court for trial.
Zebre said much of the preliminary hearing testimony has been contradictory, but the judge indicated he apparently will order the defendants bound over for trial.
"A jury of 12 men and women could believe either way," he said. "I'm going to deny the motion."
Ron Yengich, Russell's attorney, said he will begin presenting his case April 25. But Phil Hansen, representing Hall, said he will not present any evidence because he believes Zebre has indicated his intent to send the cases to district court.
Russell and Hall are charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and aiding and abetting first-degree murder. The same charges against Jeff Dunn, 35, Park City, Utah, were dismissed Feb. 12 on a motion from Uinta County Attorney Scott Smith.
The charges are the result of the 1979 murder of Green, who disappeared several days before he was to appear before a county grand jury investigating Mark Hopkinson's involvement in the 1977 bombing deaths of Evanston attorney Vincent Vehar and two members of Vehar's family.
Hopkinson is serving three life sentences for the deaths of the Vehars and is awaiting execution for ordering Green's death.