CASPER — A Cody man suspected of involvement in his girlfriend’s bloody disappearance pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Casper — to a different felony.
Adam Shane Aviles Jr., 26, appeared in the U.S. District Court for Wyoming in Casper for an arraignment and detention hearing to answer a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Federal prosecutors allege that Aviles Jr. had .45-caliber ammunition in his Dodge Durango earlier this month, despite being a felon with a prior heroin possession conviction. The charge is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
“Not guilty, your honor,” answered Aviles Jr. when U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Shickich asked how he would plead.
Aviles Jr. stood alongside his defense attorney at the podium in the small courtroom. His black hair was buzzed, he had a goatee and mustache, and wore glasses and a jumpsuit of light- and dark-grey alternating stripes.
Seconds earlier, he’d risen his right hand — his left hand still gripping the excess chain of his waist shackle and following his right hand skyward due to his close-set handcuffs — and swore to tell the truth.
Aviles Jr. testified that he was under no chemical, physical, mental or emotional influence that would prevent him from giving his plea. He appeared in good health just prior to the hearing as he sat mildly clinking his shackles, sipping from a water bottle and scrutinizing the highest corners of the courtroom.
Aviles Jr.’s trial is set for Jan. 22 in Cheyenne.
Gonna Sit Here
After the arraignment portion of the hearing, Shickich advanced to Aviles Jr.’s detention hearing.
“I think there’s a risk to the public at large,” said the magistrate, but the point went uncontested since Aviles Jr. did not object to being kept in jail.
Next Shickich asked if prosecutors would agree to his entering a discovery order for the exchange of evidence in the case.
But prosecutors asked instead for a “standard protection order” on evidence since the case remains under investigation. They also objected to sharing grand jury transcripts at this time.
The Hellish Durango
Around the time investigators found the ammunition in Aviles Jr.’s Durango, they also found a bullet hole in the passenger door, bloody clothes, other bloodstains and a missing front passenger seat, according to an evidentiary affidavit filed in the case.
These discoveries came roughly four weeks after Aviles Jr.’s on-and-off girlfriend Katie Ferguson, of Cody, vanished while traveling home from Alabama to Cody with Aviles Jr. and their two young daughters, ages 1 and 4.
Aviles Jr. and the little girls made it back to Cody. Ferguson did not.
Police bodycam footage suggests that Ferguson vanished somewhere near Arkansas or Texas, between Oct. 5 and 7, the affidavit indicates.
The bodycam footage from an Oct. 5 police encounter showing Ferguson still in the Durango did not depict bloodstains or a bullet hole.
But in footage from police encounters from Oct. 9 onward, Ferguson was not in the vehicle — but the bullet hole was in the passenger door by then, the affidavit says.
Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.