RIVERTON — Charged with two counts of manslaughter for the death of Joshua Friday, Rachelle Lynch, 21, pleaded not guilty to both counts last week in Fremont County District Court.
With public defender Jonathan Gerard at her right elbow, Lynch, dressed in a red jumpsuit and shackles, sat quietly at the defendant’s bench with her family and her alleged victim’s family seated behind her.
Judge Marvin Tyler asked during the Nov. 13 hearing how Lynch pleaded to the charges, one of which claims that she killed Joshua Friday “unintentionally, but recklessly,” and the other of which claims that she killed him “voluntarily, in a sudden heat of passion.”
Friday died due to complications of a stab wound on or about Oct. 8, according to a preliminary autopsy, after a reported physical altercation between the two. Lynch told law enforcement after the incident that she was “not trying to kill him; (but) just wanted to hurt him.”
She can only be convicted on one, not both, of the charges if proven guilty, because they are alternative allegations. Each carries a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison.
Lynch exhibited bruising after Friday’s death, and an eyewitness reported that Friday also had a knife during the fight.
In what law enforcement and Gerard have deemed an apparent contradiction, Lynch said that the victim did not have any weapons at the time.
Police discovered a turquoise-handled knife coated in suspected blood within the residence and an additional knife nearby, lying on the ground near a shirt.
Gerard asked Tyler to lower Lynch’s $100,000 cash-only bond and assign a percentage bond, given the presence of “no criminal history” and the fact that, as prosecutor, Fremont County Attorney Patrick LeBrun had asked for a bond of half that amount at Lynch’s initial appearance, but Riverton Circuit Court Judge Wesley Roberts had opted for $100,000.
“I’ve never personally had a case where there were so many mitigating factors,” Gerard said, adding that a second knife was located near the scene of the reported crime and is being tested for DNA.
“The alleged victim was most definitely the aggressor, and my client sustained significant injuries defending herself,” Gerard continued.
He was interrupted by someone watching the proceedings:
“Yeah, but she still killed him,” the person said.
LeBrun countered Gerard’s request, saying that mitigating factors are inherent in a manslaughter case, and nevertheless “a person is dead, due to a stab wound.”
Tyler said that he would take the bond amount and conditions under advisement, and in the meantime, the $100,000 bond set by Roberts remains.
Court documents state that Lynch and Friday, whom Lynch told police was her nephew, were drinking together in a mobile home park at 1315 South Federal Boulevard in Riverton early on the morning of Oct. 8 when the pair began to argue.
Lynch would later tell law enforcement agents that she had “never been that angry before” and that she went into a residence and retrieved a knife.
“She remembers running down the stairs and running at Joshua Friday; she remembers swinging a knife at him,” Riverton Police Department Detective Sgt. Eric Smits said during Lynch’s preliminary hearing last month in Riverton.
Police found Friday’s body roughly half a day after the altercation, when an officer responded to an intoxication call in which a man was reportedly “passed out” in the mobile home park.
The officer discovered that the subject of the intoxication call was dead and had suffered a lower-abdominal stab wound.