(Lander, Wyo.) – Ninth District Court Judge Norman E. Young has granted the prosecution in the Shey Bruce murder case the use of the 911 call made by victim Charles Laster to authorities.
Bruce, 45, is charged with the Second Degree Murder of 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.
The trial is set to begin on Nov. 18.
Prosecutors allege that Bruce hit Laster in the head with a beer bottle in May at a home in Shoshoni, which resulted in Laster’s death the next morning from bleeding in the brain.
At issue during a hearing last week 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. After debating the issues for a couple hours on Friday, Young asked both sides to write formal arguments.
Fremont County Attorney Michael Bennett said Young granted the use of the call, as argued by his Deputy Attorney Pat LeBrun.
Several matters were briefly discussed earlier Thursday morning in a pre-trial conference. With regard to statements Laster made to law enforcement, the defense team had similar concerns as it did with the 911 call. All parties agreed the matter could be discussed during trial as law enforcement testifies.
LeBrun asked Young to excuse the prosecution from having to provide the defense with a list of past trials their expert pathologist has participated in. Young said he must provide a history of at least the last two years’ worth of cases.
Both sides confirmed their lists of potential witnesses and evidence, and all matters were set for trial.