Cole1A onetime Ely resident charged with a 2012 murder has pled not guilty to the crime.

Stuart Eugene Cole, 29, entered his plea at his arraignment in front of District Court Judge Steve Dobrescu at the White Pine County courthouse Monday, Jan. 11.

On the night of Nov. 7, 2012, Nevada Highway Patrol Troopers discovered a body on US Highway 93 just north of town. The White Pine County Sheriff’s Department identified the victim as Lavance Stewart, 26, an Ely resident.

A sheriff’s investigator interviewed Cole the next day, believing a personal dispute existed between him and Stewart, which Cole denied. The two had previously been friends and roommates.

Cole’s whereabouts afterward are unclear. Authorities eventually located and arrested him in Mississippi in May, extraditing him two months later.

In June, District Attorney Mike Wheable filed a felony criminal complaint against Cole for Open Murder and Failure to Stop at the Scene of an Accident involving Personal Injury or Death, both felonies. The state produced its evidence against Cole at a preliminary hearing Dec. 10.

At the arraignment Monday, Cole invoked his right to a speedy trial. Deputy District Attorney James Beecher advised that he would not seek the death penalty in the case.

From this point, the court will summon potential jurors. Dobrescu set a preliminary date for the trial to start on April 12.