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Man killed with hammer; three charged
Mar 11, 2014 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer
An Ethete man and siblings from Arapahoe are facing charges in connection with the brutal and bizarre death of a man late Friday night at a trailer in the Cozy Mobile Home Park on East Monroe Avenue.
The murder weapon reportedly is a claw hammer.
A complainant called 911 at 12:02 a.m. Saturday from 1575 E. Monroe Ave. reporting their brother was cold, not breathing and lying in blood, according to the Fremont County Sheriff's Office.
When law enforcement entered the trailer in space 29, they found a man dead in the bedroom lying in a pool of blood with his face mutilated, according to documents in the cases. Around and on the body was a white powder, and the residence smelled of bleach.
Prosecutors identified the deceased as Richard Longsoldier, of Riverton.
Four people were found at the trailer alive when police arrived. The sheriff's office arrested two of them, George Jr. Littlethunder III, 29, of Arapahoe, and Craig Brian C'Bearing, 27, of Ethete.
Investigators learned that Delight Estelle Sunrhodes, 30, of Arapahoe, had been in the trailer also, and deputies later located and arrested her in Riverton.
Prosecutors Monday charged Littlethunder and Sunrhodes, his sister, with second-degree murder and C'Bearing with accessory before the fact of second-degree murder. The other individuals found at the scene were two of several potential witnesses listed by the Fremont County Attorney's Office during initial appearance hearings in the cases Monday afternoon.
Investigators determined the powder on the victim was Ajax-brand cleaner. When law enforcement contacted Sunrhodes, they found the same powder and bleach stains on her clothes, according to court documents. Littlethunder had blood on his hands and blood and bleach stains on both of two pairs of pants he was wearing. Bleach stains covered C'Bearing's sweatshirt when authorities arrested him, and his skin bore chemical burns, the affidavit stated.
High bond amounts
Circuit Court Judge Wesley Roberts at the hearings set bonds at $1 million cash for Sunrhodes and Littlethunder and at $500,000 cash for C'Bearing. The three defendants are in custody of the Fremont County Detention Center.
None of the defendants spoke to the facts of the case, choosing to remain silent ahead of making any defense. None had lawyers yet, as is common in initial appearances, but all said they would seek the services of the public defender's office.
Fremont County deputy attorney Pat LeBrun said the strength of the prosecutors' case called for a high bond.
"The strength of the case is high as (law enforcement) believe the murder weapon has been located," he said.
All three defendants said they were present during Longsoldier's death, and Sunrhodes told investigators she participated in the slaying, LeBrun said.
Affidavits in the cases leave the motive hazy but state all the defendants recounted some involvement in an attack on the alleged victim.
C'Bearing told investigators the other defendants, Longsoldier and himself drank alcohol together on Friday at space 29. Longsoldier was "bugging him" to get more liquor, so they went to a convenience store to buy some, according to the documents.
Sunrhodes was angry when they returned, she began arguing with Longsoldier, and a fight started, C'Bearing reportedly said.
Sunrhodes told investigators Longsoldier was "being a bitch," and a fight started between C'Bearing and Longsoldier, which Littlethunder joined, according to affidavits.
Littlethunder reported the four were drinking when a fight started between Longsoldier and C'Bearing, according to court documents. Littlethunder got angry and joined the fight, he reportedly said.
C'Bearing said he exchanged punches with Longsoldier, and Littlethunder started fighting Longsoldier as well, according to documents. C'Bearing went to get a hammer, C'Bearing said, and gave it to Sunrhodes, who struck Longsoldier with it. At some point, C'Bearing passed out, he reportedly said.
During the fight, Sunrhodes said Littlethunder started wielding a hammer. She took the weapon and attacked Longsoldier with it, according to documents, She swung three times with the hammer and landed two blows, with at least one to the head, Sunrhodes said.
Littlethunder said he hit Longsoldier in the face with his hands. The defendant stated that Sunrhodes hit Longsoldier 12 to 15 times with a hammer, according to documents.
An autopsy performed on the victim by a private forensic pathologist in Loveland, Colo., found that Longsoldier died of blunt-force trauma and penetrating-force trauma, according to court documents.
The necessity to keep all three separate during transportation and court proceedings, the "lack of appropriate" facilities at the Riverton courthouse, and the nature of the charges raised too many logistical and security concerns for the Fremont County Sheriff's Office, Roberts said. Accordingly, he ordered the defendants appear in court via video conference with the jail.
The judge set them all for preliminary hearings March 19.
Bleach and Ajax
Affidavits in the case suggest the investigators believe the cleaning products were used to destroy evidence of the death, either by obliterating blood stains or because defendants though the substances were flammable.
After the attack on Longsoldier, Littlethunder went to get bleach and read the label to see if it was flammable, Sunrhodes said. She then retrieved the Ajax to "clean up the blood," Sunrhodes told investigators.
Littlethunder told investigators Sunrhodes struck a match to light the trailer on fire, according to affidavits. Investigators found a burned match in the bedroom.
C'Bearing received his chemical burns and bleach stains when the cleaning product was poured on him while he was unconscious, according to the affidavits.
After the attack, Sunrhodes and Littlethunder went to another trailer in the Cozy Homes park, and Sunrhodes said the hammer was thrown at the second trailer, according to affidavits. Fremont County Sheriff's Office deputies found a hammer with what they thought was blood on it behind the second trailer.