In Park County’s District Courtroom in Cody, Myron Friday spoke only to give short answers to routine questions from Judge Steven Cranfill.
Friday’s court-appointed attorney, Nick Beduhn of Cody, entered his plea.
“On behalf of Mr. Friday, he pleads not guilty,” Beduhn said.
A Cody police detective testified at a preliminary hearing last week that Friday’s cell phone was found near his wife’s body, and a bloody shoe print that appeared to match his Nike shoes was found in the bathroom of the 33rd Street home they were sharing.
Julie Friday’s 17-year-old son told police that he dropped Myron Friday off at the home around 8:40 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26 and, sometime between 10 and 11 p.m., got back inside the home and found her body.
Detective Ron Parduba has said Julie Friday was repeatedly stabbed to death, apparently with a screwdriver.
Myron Friday was arrested without incident on Feb. 27 after a daylong search.
The first-degree murder charge alleges that the killing was done “purposely and with premeditated malice.” Beduhn has argued that the allegations against Friday, even if true, would indicate a killing done in rage, not with premeditation.
Prosecutor Tim Blatt has pinned his argument in support of the first-degree charge on a statement that Julie Friday’s daughter made to police. The daughter reportedly recalled that a couple days prior to the murder, Myron Friday threatened to kill his wife if he ever learned she had cheated on him — and Myron Friday had recently learned she’d gone out with another man while he was in jail.
At the preliminary hearing, Beduhn noted that threat had never been reported to police, but Circuit Court Judge Bruce Waters found there was enough evidence for the state to try Friday on first-degree murder.
At Monday’s arraignment hearing, Judge Cranfill advised Friday of his rights — including a reminder that he is presumed innocent — and explained the charge against him. That included a recap of the potential penalties of first-degree murder: ranging from a minimum of life in prison to death.
Beduhn filed a motion to require the state to notify the defense within 45 days as to whether the death penalty will be sought. Barring a request for an extension of time by the defense or some exception, Friday must be tried with 180 days of Monday’s arraignment.
Beduhn told Cranfill he is seeking notice from the state of what evidence it intends to use at trial — a request intended to give the defense an opportunity to seek to suppress evidence.
Cranfill did not rule on the motion, as he will not be hearing the case.
Park County Attorney Bryan Skoric filed a pre-emptory challenge disqualifying the Cody judge from presiding over the matter.
Skoric did not give a reason for filing the challenge in the document.
Cranfill recently ruled against the state in a case that had been about to go to trial, throwing out two animal cruelty charges because biological evidence was thrown away without the defense having a chance to inspect it.
Cranfill has assigned the case to his fellow Fifth Judicial District Judge, Robert Skar. Skar, who is based out of Worland, generally hears cases in Washakie, Hot Springs and Big Horn counties. Beduhn has five days to decide whether he’ll ask for a different judge.
He declined to comment on Friday’s defense after Monday’s hearing. As at previous hearings, a group of Myron Friday’s family members were in attendance and, after court was dismissed, two called out to say they loved him.
Friday remains in the Park County Detention Center in Cody, with bail set at $1 million cash.