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2 MEN CHARGED IN DEATH OF VERNAL WOMAN

A Fort Duchesne man and a Roosevelt resident will stand trial for the February 10 slaying of Connie M. Richens, Vernal.

Eighth District Court Judge John R. Anderson Friday, found probable cause to bind defendants Scott M. Reed, 30, and Lucas Rae Black, 33, over for trial on one third-degree felony count each for possession of a controlled substance, and one count of first-degree criminal homicide.In addition, Reed faces felony charges for failure to stop at the command of a police officer and for escaping from custody, along with a class B misdemeanor count of interfering with the arrest by a police officer. Although their preliminary hearings were held jointly, Reed and Black will be tried separately. Reed and Black were arraigned following the preliminary hearing; both have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The prosecution maintains the two went to Richens' home around 7:45 p.m. on the evening of February 10 and were alone with her in her bedroom when her throat was slashed. No possible motive was brought up in court.

Richens' daughter, 11-year-old April Chappel, testified that the two men had been to the home on other occasions, but this was the first time they had come together. The girl told the court the two men disappeared with her mother into the master bedroom for approximately 10 to 15 minutes when she heard her mother screaming or laughing hysterically shortly before 8 p.m.

April and Wade Simonton, of Roosevelt - who had come to the house after Reed and Black went to the bedroom with Richens - went to the door together. Simonton knocked on the door, jarring it open a bit before it was abruptly kicked shut. Simonton said at that time he asked if everything was OK. There was no reply. Approximately two to three minutes later Black and Reed walked out of the room. Simonton told the court that Black looked "heartbroken" and kept his eyes on the floor, but said that Reed appeared well groomed and spoke to him briefly before leaving the house.

Simonton then went into the bedroom to find Richens' body in the doorway to the master bathroom. At first he said he'd assumed she had been badly beaten. He followed the pair in his truck and alerted authorities. The two men were apprehended by police a few miles from the murder scene, just minutes after the crime occurred. According to deputy sheriffs, Black was cooperative during the arrest, while Reed ran and hid from them. Vernal police Detective Joe Boren said Reed later ran from officers while handcuffed. The knife that prosecutors believe was used in the murder was found the following day by a 13-year-old boy who noticed something gleaming along the shoulder of the road on 3500 South - the route over which the defendants led police on a chase. The blade was partially opened and had blood on it.

Toxicology reports on the victim and the two suspects showed proof of drug use. Reed and Black tested positive for methamphetamine, while Richens tested positive for methamphetamine and cocaine. Reed was also intoxicated, according to the reports.

A tentative trial date is scheduled for Black the week of July 10. Black remains incarcerated in the Uintah County jail. His bond has been reduced to $51,000. Reed is free on $20,000 bond. His trial is tentatively slated for the week of Sept. 5.

Prosecutors are awaiting the results of DNA testing before going to trial.