Shootout suspect pleads not guilty

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A Craig man accused of robbing a bar and trading gunfire with police last year in Casper, Wyo., pleaded not guilty to charges that carry a life sentence.

Michael Garren, 19, entered his plea Thursday morning in the Natrona County District Court. He is charged with conspiracy to commit robbery, accessory and/or aiding and abetting a robbery, accessory and/or aiding and abetting, conspiracy to commit first degree murder and five counts of attempted murder.

A district court judge entered Garren's plea and gave prosecutors 15 days to decide whether they will seek the death penalty, a Natrona County clerk said.

The charges stem from an alleged robbery and shootout with police in November 2006.

Garren allegedly was aided in the shootout and foiled robbery attempt by Paul Martin Howell, 29, and four other Craig teenagers. Howell pleaded not guilty in January.

Both men are being held at the Natrona County Detention Center on $1 million bond.

If found guilty, the men face a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. Garren's trial is set for April 19 and Howell's is set for March 26.

Three of the accused teenage accomplices -- Daniel Mer-win, 16, James Gore, 17, and Johnathan Milligan, 16 -- also are being tried in District Court. The fourth, Steven Liljedahl, 16, is being tried in juvenile court.

Each teenager faces similar robbery and attempted murder charges as Howell and Garren.

They are being held at the Natrona County Juvenile Deten-tion Center.

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