Two Utah men charged in connection with the 1979 murder of Jeffrey Lynn Green have pleaded not guilty to the charges in state district court in Uinta County.
County Attorney Scott Smith said Alvin "Hap" Russell and Todd Hall both pleaded not guilty to charges of aiding and abetting first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.The two are accused of helping convicted murderer Mark Hopkinson arrange Green's death shortly before he was to testify before a grand jury about the bombing deaths of Evanston attorney Vincent Vehar and two members of his family.
Hopkinson has been sentenced to death in Green's torture slaying and to life in prison in the Vehar slayings.
District Judge John Troughton, a nephew of Vehar and involved in part of the Hopkinson trial, has excused himself from proceedings in the cases of Russell and Hall and is searching for another judge to take over the proceedings, Smith said.
He added it could be difficult to find a judge able to take over the proceedings, expected to last two to three months.
Deputy County Attorney Jim Anderson, meanwhile, said Hall will file an affidavit of indigency and seek a public defender.
But state Public Defender Leonard Munker, who has represented Hopkinson in his appeals, said he will hire, at state expense, the two attorneys representing Hall rather than have any of the attorneys on his staff take over the case.
Munker said if any of his attorneys were involved in the case, it could result in questions over conflict of interest.
"(his way) there would then never be a question of whether my office is dealing with their case in such a fashion it may be to the benefit of Hopkinson," he said.