Trial dates set for shootout suspects

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Trial dates have been scheduled against six Craig suspects accused of robbing a bar and trading gunfire with police last year in Casper, Wyo., court officials said.

Paul Howell, 29, appeared for an arraignment hearing Wednesday in Natrona County District Court. He pleaded not guilty to each of the charges pending against him -- conspiracy to commit robbery, accessory and/or aiding and abetting a robbery, accessory and/or abetting, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and five counts of attempted first-degree murder.

His trial has been scheduled for March 26.

Howell's alleged adult accomplice, 19-year-old Michael Garren, will be arraigned Feb. 1. His trial is set for April 19. He faces the same nine charges as Howell.

The charges stem from an alleged robbery and shootout with police in November 2006. The two men, along with four Craig juveniles, allegedly robbed a bar in Casper and then fired at police officers while trying to flee the scene.

Three of the juvenile suspects -- Daniel Merwin, 16, James Gore, 17, and Johnathan Milligan, 16 -- are being tried in district court, a Natrona court clerk said. The case against the fourth suspect, Steven Liljedahl, is being argued in juvenile court.

Each of the juveniles face similar robbery and attempted murder charges as Howell and Garren.

Gore and Merwin will be arraigned Feb. 15 and 16, respectively, and an April 30 trial date has been set in both cases.

Milligan's case was moved from juvenile court to district court Jan. 10. He will be arraigned Feb. 7, with trial set for May 7.

Trials are tentatively scheduled, the Natrona court clerk said, and are contingent upon what happens during the suspects' arraignment hearings.

Authorities in Moffat County also believe the six suspects were behind a rash of burglaries at various local businesses in November last year.

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