(Lander, Wyo.) – Jude Blackburn, 17, was sentenced this morning in Wyoming’s Ninth District Court to no less than 20 and no more than 30 years in prison for his role in the November 2011 Hudson double homicide of Eric Likes, 42, and Elva Quiver, 20.
Blackburn is the last of five defendants in the case to be sentenced. After two years of juvenile court hearings and competency hearings, Blackburn pleaded guilty to Second Degree Murder in January 2014. He was initially charged with two counts of first degree murder, two counts of conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree, first degree arson, two counts of aggravated robbery and two counts of conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery.
Likes and Quiver were stabbed and beaten to death in their Hudson trailer home during the perpetration of a planned robbery. Two days later some of the defendants returned to the location to burn the trailer down in an effort cover up the murders. Court documents state Blackburn delivered the final blow to Likes’s head with a dresser drawer.
Brian Likes, Eric Likes’s brother, has spoken at each of the defendants’ sentencings, and he did again today. He told Judge Norman E. Young that he didn’t approve of the plea bargains that all of the defendants received and asked Young to give Blackburn the toughest sentence possible. Turning to Blackburn, Brian Likes said, “The only way I want to see you get out of jail is in a f****** body bag.” Returning to the audience he shouted that Blackburn just thinks the whole situation is “a big joke.”
Young, at the time of the sentencing, commended Brian Likes for sticking with the case and speaking every chance he could. He said Brian Likes has been a gentleman and respectful and that today’s outburst was understandable. “I respect how you feel,” Young said. “I’m not sure I could have done what he’s done four times.”
In giving his sentencing recommendation, Fremont County Attorney Michael Bennett acknowledged that to the public the sentence would seem light. However, he said the U.S. Supreme Court requires juveniles be treated differently, even if they are being tried as an adult. He said that consideration does not make Blackburn’s actions any less egregious. Bennett requested 20-30 years.
Blackburn’s attorneys argued for 20-25 years.
The defendant himself apologized for his actions. “I didn’t mean for it to happen the way it did,” he said, adding, “I just want everyone to know I’m sorry.”
Young, in laying down the sentencing, alluded to the fact that there were psychological considerations outlined in the pre-sentence investigation that lead him to believe that the plea agreement was appropriate. The pre-sentence investigation is sealed from public viewing. He noted that in cases like this he has to say to the public, “You’re just going to have to trust me on this.”
Blackburn’s co-defendants, Joseph Jude Jenkins, Laziur Hanway Jr., Samantha Hanway and Ryan Hanway, have all pleaded guilty to lesser charges and have been sentenced.
Laziur Hanway Jr., 20, was sentenced to life in prison for two counts of Second Degree Murder.
Jenkins, 20, received a sentence of 70 years to life after pleading guilty to two counts of Second-Degree Aiding and Abetting Murder.
Samantha Hanway, 21, received 25 to 50 years after pleading guilty in 2012 to two counts of Second-Degree Aiding and Abetting Murder.
Ryan Hanway, who was a conspirator in the robbery, was sentenced to 8 to 16 years in prison for Conspiracy to Commit Aggravated Robbery.