Volume 106, Number 20 - May 15, 2009
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Willoughby arraignment set for June 2
Next up: Arraignment.
Murder suspect Troy Willoughby was bound over to the district court after his preliminary hearing last Friday. On Wednesday, Judge Marvin Tyler of the Ninth Judicial District Court set the arraignment of Willoughby for June 2, at 11 a.m.
“After hearing the evidence that has been presented this morning, I’m going to find there is probable cause,” Judge Curt Haws said on Friday morning in the circuit court.
Willoughby, 46, has been charged with the murder of Elizabeth Miles Ehlers. She was found dead almost 25 years ago at a pullout near the Hoback Junction.
For the most part, very little new information was gleaned from the hearing’s only witness, Captain Brian Ketterhagen of Sublette County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) investigations unit.
As stated in the affidavit, Tim Basye and Rosalie Hosking were re-interviewed by the SCSO. During those interviews Basye, a former friend of Willoughby, and Hosking, Willoughby’s ex-wife, both implicated Willoughby in the murder.
“[Hosking] stated that Troy Willoughby had shot Lisa Ehlers,” Ketterhagen said during the hearing.
Malcolm Scott Willoughby, biological son of the former couple, told SCSO that his father had made contact with him in December 2008 because Willoughby had killed someone in the canyon and “he (Troy) needed to return and tie up some loose ends,” Ketterhagen said.
During the night of the murder, Basye, Hosking, Willoughby and Ehlers were confirmed present at the same party being hosted in Jackson.
They did not leave together, but witnesses — including Willoughby — put everyone at the scene of the crime: The milepost 147 pullout on Highway 191.
“All she (Hosking) hears is a gunshot, correct?” Chief Trial Counsel Kerri Johnson asked.
“She hears an altercation between Troy and Lisa,” Ketterhagen said.
Willoughby corroborated testimony about most of the night during interviews with the SCSO on Feb. 26 and 27, except that he said Ehlers was already dead when they arrived at the scene. The interviews were both recorded.
Ehlers was shot under the right ear, on her left hand and in the chest/sternum by what the SCSO believes to be a .357 or .38 revolver, Ketterhagen said.
Other revelations from the hearing included the fact that Basye was aware of the firearm in his vehicle that supposedly shot Ehlers.
This case has also been suspected to have drug implications, possibly even a deal gone badly. When asked about drugs, Ketterhagen said some were found on Ehlers.
Now, both the Sublette County Attorney’s Office and the defense will wait on the arraignment date. During it, Willoughby will enter his plea, and a trial date could be set — or at least a conference so that a trial date could be set later.
Wyoming has speedy trial laws that require a trial by at least 180 days after the initial arraignment date.
If that right is not waived, a trial could be set by the end of the year.
Once a trial date is set, the defense will be given all the evidence that the prosecution will present. If it objects to any of that evidence, a motion to suppress could be filed.
Whether the defense will seek any such motions remains to be seen.
“Certainly those things can be done; motions can be filed,” Johnson said. “Even in murder cases, sometimes no motions get filed.”
With so much evidence collected over such a long case, the county attorney’s office would not be surprised if the speedy trial were waived, setting back the trial to next year.
However, Johnson was unwilling to intimate which way it could go.
“I can tell you, generally speaking, that I don’t waive speedy trial,” she said.
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