- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 26, 2014

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) - A judge on Tuesday ruled prosecutors have strong enough evidence against a Laramie man accused of killing a 20-year-old woman 42 years ago that they can take the first-degree murder case against him to trial.

Circuit Judge Robert A. Castor’s ruling follows the arrest last week of Lance David Bean, 60, in the 1972 slaying of Sharon Reher, whose body was found in her Laramie residence by her brother.

Defense lawyer Vaughn Neubauer urged Castor to drop the murder charge and said there was absolutely no evidence that his client was the person who killed Reher.

Testifying at the hearing Tuesday, Laramie Police Detective Joel Senior said he investigated the cold case. He said Bean’s DNA was found during recent crime lab tests that focused on Reher’s bra, panties and pants.

Senior testified that Reher apparently had been raped and said an autopsy shortly after her death determined the presence of semen in her body. However, he said that sample was not preserved and was never tested for DNA.

Senior said an autopsy at the time concluded that Reher died from a wound to her neck.

Detectives at the time found that Reher had a party the night before the killing. Senior said Bean was among the guests at Reher’s party and had gone with her and others to an after-hours bar early that morning.

Police took hair and other samples from Bean and party guests. In a statement filed in court to support the charge against Bean, Senior stated that Bean told investigators at the time he had not been intimate with Reher.

Senior said that Bean recently told police he didn’t remember being at the party and didn’t remember Reher.

Prosecutor Joshua Merseal had filed five possible alternative murder charges against Bean. Those included the possibilities that he killed her during the course of the commission of rape, or that possibly others participated in the attack.

Castor dismissed the two alternatives that alleged the possible involvement of other people in the crime, saying Merseal hadn’t presented any evidence of that.

In arguing for the charge to be dropped, Neubauer said prosecutors had no evidence that any of Bean’s DNA, if in fact it existed on Reher’s clothing, was deposited during the killing.

Neubauer also said laboratory findings that Bean’s DNA was consistent with any DNA found on Reher’s clothing didn’t rise to the level of accuracy required to prove it was in fact Bean’s.

Neubauer said Bean is not a flight risk, and asked for a low bail. He said Bean has lived in the Laramie area his whole life with the exception of time in the Navy. Neubauer said Bean is retired from the Union Pacific Railroad.

Merseal asked Castor to set bail at $1 million, saying Bean had every reason to flee.

Castor set bail at $750,000 cash or corporate bond.

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