Trial for trio charged in Longsoldier murder still set for September despite crime lab delays

(Lander, Wyo.) – The trial for the three individuals charged with the March murder of Richard Longsoldier remains set for Sept. 15 following a status hearing this morning.

Delight Estelle Sunrhodes, 30, and George Littlethunder III, 29, both of Arapahoe, are charged with second degree murder. Craig C’Bearing, 27, of Ethete, is charged with Accessory Before the Fact to Murder in the Second Degree. It is alleged that Longsoldier was beaten to death with a claw hammer at a home in Riverton on March 7 by Sunrhodes and Littlethunder.

Fremont County Attorney Michael Bennett said he wanted to get all of the attorneys and Judge Norman E. Young together and go on the record about why no discovery had been filed for several months. Bennett said the State Crime Lab has been taking longer to process evidence than had been promised.

“I literally cannot get my evidence back from the crime lab,” Bennett said. He said the lab’s completion of a blood spatter analysis was supposed to be done by mid-July, then he was told he’d have a report on that by the beginning of this week, and as of this morning he still hadn’t received the report. He also said DNA analysis of more than 20 different items had not been returned. The main evidence the state and the defense counsels have access to right now are reports on a number of fingerprints found at the scene.

Despite noting that evidence might not be returned by the trial date and that the defense might not have time to have their own experts analyze the evidence, neither Bennett nor any of the defense attorneys asked for a continuance. Young made it clear that if a continuance was requested due to the crime lab delays, he would want someone from the lab to testify as to why it has taken so long. That being said, he acknowledged the lab’s busy schedule and tough priority decision making.

None of the defendants were present, only their attorneys. When asked why Sunrhodes’s and C’Bearing’s representatives said their clients declined to be present. Littlethunder’s attorney was unsure if he knew about the hearing.

Devon Petersen, representing Sunrhodes, said his client has no intention of asking for a continuance and that she would prefer to have her trial in the speedy trial period, which would end in early October.

Defendants Craig C'Bearing, left, and George Littlethunder III, right, stood as proceedings began in Ninth District Circuit Court in Riverton earlier this year.

Defendants Craig C’Bearing, left, and George Littlethunder III, right, stood as proceedings began in Ninth District Circuit Court in Riverton earlier this year.