(Lander, Wyo.) – As the trial approaches for Shey Bruce, the man accused in the May death of a Shoshoni man, hearings are being held to determine what evidence can and can’t be presented to the jury.
Bruce, 45, is charged with the Second Degree Murder of Charles Laster and Domestic Violence Battery against Laster’s wife. The murder charge is a felony punishable by no less than 20 years in prison up to life. The domestic violence charge is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in prison and/or $750 in fines.
Prosecutors allege that Bruce hit Laster in the head with a beer bottle, which resulted in Laster’s death the next morning from bleeding in the brain.
At issue during a hearing earlier on Friday was whether the 911 call from Laster the evening the attack is admissible in court. In the call is the prosecution’s one piece of evidence regarding the use of a beer bottle and Laster is heard identifying the suspect as “Shey something.”
Defense Attorney Devon Petersen argued, using a number of U.S. Supreme Court cases, that because Laster called at least 24 minutes after the attack his allegations against Bruce are hearsay. Additionally, he said because Laster is unable to testify it is unfair to his client.
Deputy County Attorney Pat LeBrun said since Laster was calling primarily on behalf of his wife, who reportedly can be heard yelling in pain in the background, that Laster’s statements are reliable and not of a testimonial nature. LeBrun said the call should be considered just like a photo.
In considering exemptions to hearsay rules, Ninth District Court Judge Norman E. Young asked why couldn’t this be exempted because Laster was calling on behalf of his wife’s medical well-being. Neither of the attorneys having studied that case law, he asked both to file written briefs by 5 p.m. on Monday.
A pretrial is scheduled for next Friday, and the trial itself is set for Nov. 18.