Hearing scheduled for second teen involved in Lincoln Park drive-by shooting

May 22—CHEYENNE — A new preliminary hearing date has been scheduled in Laramie County Circuit Court for the second defendant involved in the Lincoln Park drive-by shooting on April 30.

Sixteen-year-old Julian Espinoza will appear before Judge Antoinette Williams at 11 a.m. June 2, after his lawyer filed a document Thursday to waive the speedy preliminary hearing requirement. He was originally scheduled to appear in Circuit Court alongside defendant Johnny Munoz, 17, who was arrested following a week-long investigation by the Cheyenne Police Department and U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force.

Munoz was charged as an adult with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder for allegedly firing a gun out of a moving vehicle and killing an unidentified 15-year-old girl the night of April 30.

Espinoza was charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and aiding and abetting first-degree murder for his role in driving the SUV.

Munoz kept his original hearing date, and his charges were bound over to Laramie County District Court for a criminal trial. However, the waiver for Espinoza was approved by Williams for circumstances outlined by the defense counsel.

The defense attorney made the request because they said they received the case May 15 at 5 p.m., and “they didn’t have enough time to adequately prepare for this preliminary hearing scheduled on May 18, 2023, based on the gravity of the charges and the counsel’s scheduled other court matters.”

“Mr. Espinoza is a 16-year-old child who is charged with crimes that carry penalties of life imprisonment,” according to their motion. “Counsel has only had the opportunity to meet with Mr. Espinoza once, and has not had the opportunity to fully explain the criminal process of the preliminary hearing. Counsel has not had enough time to fully review the pending charges, and the probable cause affidavit with Mr. Espinoza.”

His attorney also said Espinoza’s family is looking to hire private counsel, and they have spoken with Cowboy Criminal Defense attorney Christina Cherni, who is in negotiations to represent him. If hired, the firm wishes to represent the defendant at the preliminary hearing.

Other arguments were made, including that Espinoza needed more time with the counsel in order to provide him with the appropriate defensive theory development and informational acquisition, and deputy district attorney William Edelman didn’t object to the delay.

Jasmine Hall is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s state government reporter. She can be reached by email at jhall@wyomingnews.com or by phone at 307-633-3167. Follow her on Twitter @jasminerhphotos and on Instagram @jhrose25.

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