The Salt Lake lawyer defending a Utah man charged with aiding and abetting the 1979 murder of Jeffrey Green says he believes a Wyoming Supreme Court ruling on the speedy trial issue could apply to the case.
Attorney Ron Yengich said he believes the high court's ruling last week that two men convicted of rape in Sweetwater County must be set free because their trial on the charges was delayed 18 months also applies to his client, Alvin Russell, 36, Salt Lake City."I'm just saying the theory of the case applies to our issue of pre-indictment delay," he said. "The rights of the accused person inherent in both the due process claims and the right to a speedy trial are the same."
Yengich has argued the nine-year delay in bringing charges against Russell and his co-defendant Todd Hall, 47, also of Salt Lake City, is excessive and the death of a key witness during that time has impaired the men's defense.
Yengich and the defendants were in Green River Tuesday for a hearing before retired District Judge Kenneth Hamm on the defense claim that the charges should be dropped because the men had been given immunity for testimony they had given previously in the case.
Russell and Hall each are charged with conspiracy and aiding and abetting first-degree murder in the death of Green for allegedly providing getaway vehicles and other assistance to the two men who actually committed the murder.
Mark Hopkinson has been convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death for arranging the murder, but the two men who abducted and killed Green have never been publicly identified or charged in the case.
Green was killed shortly before he was to testify before a Uinta County grand jury investigating the 1977 bombing deaths of Evanston lawyer Vincent Vehar, his wife and one of his sons. Hopkinson also has been convicted in the Vehar deaths and sentenced to three consecutive life terms.
Hamm cut short the hearing Tuesday saying he was having difficulty making any sense of the testimony, which consisted largely of reading from transcripts of previous hearings and trials in the case.
The judge gave the defense and prosecution until June 1 to submit a list of mutually agreed-to facts in the case.