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Wyoming News Briefs: March 19, 2018

The Star Valley Independent is a member of the Wyoming News Exchange. These statewide stories are part of this effort.

• Teton County businessman pleads innocent in child porn case

JACKSON (WNE) — The Teton County man charged with four felony counts of sexual exploitation of children pleaded not guilty to all counts Thursday morning. Bill Resor, 65, appeared in Teton County District Court with his attorneys, Nathan Rectanus and Eric Klein.

Resor was arraigned at 11 a.m. and waived his right to a preliminary hearing. If convicted, he faces a minimum of five years and a maximum of 44 years in prison, said Judge Joseph Bluemel, of the Third Judicial District.

The case was assigned to Bluemel earlier this month after Judge Timothy Day recused himself.
Resor waived his right to a speedy trial Thursday, and Bluemel set the case for a four-day trial to begin Sept. 17. A pretrial hearing was scheduled for July 31.Klein asked the court to conside r setting a motions hearing to take place before the pretrial to resolve matters that may arise between now and the trial date. No hearing was set by press time.

Resor, dressed in a suit jacket, spoke in court only when addressed by the judge. The lifelong Teton County resident, wealthy developer and former manager of Snake River Ranch was arrested in November 2017, about six months after special agents with the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigations searched his house and seized child pornography, according to court documents.

Resor is charged with two felony counts of distributing child porn and two felony counts of possessing it.
Thirty-five of the images seized were submitted to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for identification, court documents state.


• Man not guilty of attempted murder

CHEYENNE (WNE) — A Laramie County jury on Friday found a Cheyenne man not guilty of two counts of attempted first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault after he shot and paralyzed one man and shot at another during a dispute over a car in May 2017.

An attorney for Charles Hopkins told the jury in closing arguments Thursday that the then-59-year-old was trying to defend his home and protect himself when Nicholas Johnson and Allen Stovall came to his door late one night.

Charging documents and testimony state that Johnson and Stovall were on their way to Kansas on May 12, 2017, when their car broke down. The two wanted to buy a 2004 Toyota Corolla from Hopkins’ former landlord for the rest of the journey.

The car was being used by Hopkins, who had recently moved to a shed behind his daughter’s trailer to make way for a new tenant in his landlord’s home.

When Johnson and Stovall went to the shed to retrieve the keys from Hopkins, a fight ensued.
Hopkins shot a gun at least twice. One of the bullets hit Johnson and paralyzed him on his right side.
In closing arguments, prosecutor Benjamin Sherman painted the picture that Hopkins was “lying in wait” for Johnson and Stovall in his shed with a loaded gun. When Stovall opened the door to get the car keys, Hopkins was ready to shoot, Sherman said.

But defense attorney Kerri Johnson saw it differently. She said Hopkins was protecting himself and his home when he was attacked by Nicholas Johnson and Stovall.
“When someone is coming at you and punches you, your thought is ‘I’ve got to stop this threat,’” Johnson said.


• Microsoft to invest in technology economy

CHEYENNE (WNE) — Microsoft says it will make significant financial investments in Cheyenne’s economy over the next five years.

Microsoft President Brad Smith on Friday announced the city as a recipient of the company’s TechSpark initiative, a new national civic program providing larger rural communities with economic opportunity and solutions to critical technological barriers.

Cheyenne is one of six communities participating in the initiative.

Because communities outside of major metropolitan areas have been hit harder by limited access to growing technological advancements, TechSpark leaders will partner with the community to address how technology can improve economic growth and job creation.

In Cheyenne, Microsoft will introduce a signature project that, company officials say, will be a major economic investment in the city’s future.

That project, along with other initiatives, will be announced in the coming months.
Wyoming entrepreneur Dennis Ellis will spearhead the effort in Cheyenne as community engagement manager. Ellis said he will focus on economic development through broadband connectivity initiatives, digital skills development, workforce development and nonprofit support.

“TechSpark will be making significant financial investments in Cheyenne throughout the program’s five years,” Ellis said. “As we partner with local leaders, the investment will be driven by the projects we try to deploy.”

Microsoft ultimately chose Cheyenne in part due to Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead’s ENDOW (Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming) initiative, a 20-year plan to diversify and grow Wyoming’s economy.

Ron Gullberg, business development director for the Wyoming Business Council, said the announcement is a result of an ongoing positive relationship with Cheyenne’s still-expanding Microsoft data center.

“This falls nicely into the Business Council’s strategic plans,” Gullberg said. “Whether that’s growing our technology sector or focusing on education, having a relationship with Microsoft has significantly helped the state of Wyoming.”


• EWC studies transgender policies

TORRINGTON (WNE) – The Eastern Wyoming College Board of Trustees has split in approving separate school policy proposals to address issues surrounding transgender students and faculty on campus.
Draft policies were introduced March 13 for first reading to set rules for student housing, participation in sports and the full range of employment for individuals who identify as transgender.

The introduction to the policies states, “Eastern Wyoming College is committed to fostering, cultivating and preserving a culture of diversity and inclusion among employees and students that is free from discrimination.”

For employees, the policies would ensure equality in employment practices, regardless of gender identity, as well as protecting the privacy of individuals who identify as transgender.

For students, they would establish a gender-neutral housing option as well as establishing guidelines for transgender student’s participation in athletic teams in “intercollegiate, club and intramural sports.” Those guidelines would also be extended to individuals attending and participating in activities at EWC.
The introduction of the three policies caused vigorous debate among the trustees, with the majority coming down in favor of the inclusion policies.

Trustees expressed concern over the language in the housing policy, worrying it could open the door to different issues, including opposite-sex couples living together in the same dorm room as well as accommodations for students who don’t want to live with transgender students.

“How do we deal with students who don’t want to live in a residence hall that’s gender mixed or gender neutral?” asked Jim Willox, a non-voting member of the Board representing the Douglas campus.
EWC President Leslie Travers said if the current wording of the policy proposal covering housing was confusing, the best option would be to postpone action on the proposal until it could be rewritten, which the board approved unanimously.

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