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March 22, 2012 8:19 am

Cody murder case moves forward

Written by CJ Baker

A judge has ruled that Park County prosecutors have enough evidence to proceed with a first-degree murder charge against a Cody man alleged to have killed his wife.

The case against Myron Friday, 28, was bound over to Park County’s District Court after a Monday afternoon hearing in front of Circuit Court Judge Bruce Waters.

Cody police say Friday had been dropped off, alone, at the Cody home he was sharing with Julie Friday around 8:40 p.m. on Feb. 26. Sometime between 10 and 11 p.m., her brutalized body — covered with blood from more than 20 wounds — was reportedly discovered by her 17-year-old son, police say. Police were called around 11 p.m.

Myron Friday’s cell phone was found in the pocket of a pair of blood-stained pants found near Julie Friday’s body, police say.

When Friday was arrested the following day, he had apparent blood on his pants and was wearing Nike shoes whose zig-zag, side-to-side tread appeared to match a bloody print found in Julie Friday’s bathroom, police say.

A Cody police detective revealed one previously-unannounced development in the case at Monday’s hearing, testifying that officers found half of Julie Friday’s phone in a field between her 33rd Street trailer and a Big Horn Avenue residence Myron Friday reportedly visited after her death.

Friday’s attorney, Nick Beduhn, argued that Cody police did not offer enough evidence to indicate premeditation in the killing — a necessary component of a first-degree murder charge. However, Waters found an alleged threat Friday made to his wife prior to the murder “would tend to show some type of premeditation” and bound the charge over to District Court.

A preliminary hearing has much lower standards of proof and evidence than a trial.

For example, the Cody detective was allowed to recap statements various individuals gave to other officers. At a trial, those individuals and officers have to take the stand themselves, allowing a judge or jury to weigh their credibility and determine the actual facts.

Additionally, the state didn’t need to prove Friday’s guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt” at the hearing as it would at a trial; instead, Deputy Park County Attorney Tim Blatt needed only to show “probable cause” — that is, presenting enough evidence to cause an ordinary person to have a “reasonable belief” that Friday committed the offense.

Beduhn conceded that the allegations presented by Cody Detective Ron Parduba were sufficient probable cause for all the elements of first-degree murder — except the critical element of premeditation.

“This sounds more like an act of rage or violence in that case or manner, but it doesn’t amount to a premeditated malice type of killing,” Beduhn argued.

If the killing was done without premeditation, the allegation would be classified as the lesser offense of second-degree murder. While first-degree murder can be punished by death or a minimum of life in prison, second-degree murder has a minimum of 20 years and a maximum of life.

Blatt pinned his argument supporting the first-degree charge on a statement Julie Friday’s daughter reportedly made to police. According to Parduba, the daughter told police that Myron Friday learned Julie Friday went out with another man while he was in jail and said he would kill her if he found out she had cheated on him.

Friday “was indicating to everybody what his plans were,” Blatt contended.

Beduhn noted that the alleged threat was never reported to law enforcement.

Waters questioned why Friday would have threatened to kill his wife for seeing another man if he already knew she had, but said the allegations were enough for a preliminary hearing.

As is typical at such hearings, Blatt called only the lead investigating officer — Parduba — to the stand, while Beduhn called no witnesses.

Friday spoke only to confirm his identity, but appeared to shake his head in disagreement as some of the allegations were made against him.

Parduba testified in gruesome detail about the condition of Julie Friday’s body and the bedroom, describing deep puncture wounds to her head, neck and chest.

“In this case, it is clear that this was a brutal assault on Ms. Friday, and it was a repetitive assault that would have taken some time to complete,” said Blatt.

Many of the wounds appeared to be inflicted by a Phillips-head screwdriver, Parduba said. Some of the blows were inflicted with such force that it appeared that the bottom of a screwdriver handle had left a circular “tattoo” on the skin, he said.

A Phillips screwdriver — with some blood in its grooves and on the handle — was laying about a foot from Julie Friday’s body, Parduba said, but it was not initially seized as potential evidence by Cody police or the personnel from the state crime lab.

Parduba said it was only after Julie Friday’s body was cleaned of the blood at her autopsy that the cross-shaped wounds were visible.

Cody police ended up going back to the house with new search warrants three times after the initial search to grab additional items. The items included the screwdriver and a bloodied jersey.

Friday will next appear for an arraignment hearing in District Court, where he will formally enter a plea to the first-degree murder charge.

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