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NEWS BRIEFS for Friday, April 26, 2019

Man accused of trying to kill father with hammer a second time

RIVERTON (WNE) — Accused of trying to kill his father with a hammer, 29-year-old Garrett Powell is filing for an evaluation of mental incompetence — for the second time in less than a year. 

The Fremont County Circuit Court in Riverton held a continuation Monday of Powell’s initial appearance, the first portion of which he attended Thursday through video link to face a charge of attempted first-degree murder for attacking his father with a hammer in their home south of Lander, late on April 16. 

It’s the second offense of this type faced by Powell. He was found not guilty due to mental incompetence or deficiency in February of this year related to September 2018 charges of having attacked his father with a hammer at that time. 

Last week, the former Riverton resident had said that, because his medicine was not yet available to him at the county detention center in Lander, he was unable to process Judge Wesley A. Roberts’s statements and questions on Thursday. 

For the continuation, the defendant appeared in person and was joined by public defense attorney Dan Caldwell. When addressed, Caldwell told the judge he thought it would be “prudent” to request an evaluation of Powell’s “competency to proceed.” 

In Wyoming, the statute enabling the competence evaluation asserts that “If it appears at any stage of a criminal proceeding, by motion or upon the court’s own motion, that there is reasonable cause to believe that the accused has a mental illness or deficiency making him unfit to proceed, all further proceedings shall be suspended.”


Case of teen charged in shooting threats sent to district court

EVANSTON (WNE) — The case of a Lyman teen charged as an adult for making terroristic threats that resulted in the lockdown of Lyman High School on Tuesday, April 9, has been bound over to district court. 

Circuit Court Judge Michael Greer presided over the preliminary hearing for Brady T. Dean on the afternoon of Thursday, April 18, and ruled there was ample evidence for the case to proceed. 

Dean allegedly made the threats primarily via Facebook late on April 8 and in the early morning hours of April 9, with the threats directed toward two Bridger Valley teens who attended Lyman High School along with Dean.

Lyman Police Officer Alan Kiefer appeared in court on Thursday and described the events leading up to Dean’s April 9 arrest. 

Kiefer said law enforcement and school officials in Lyman received multiple reports of Dean making threats using Facebook Messenger, including one that allegedly included a photo of Dean with a firearm and text that read, in part, “You might not want to go to school ever again. . . If I ever see or catch you, you’re (expletive) dead.” 

Other threats sent through Facebook allegedly referenced people being “ready to get shot,” and Dean stating he wasn’t going to stop until his shirt was soaked in blood. He also allegedly said he wasn’t afraid of jail and that the threats were not a joke. 

Kiefer said both law enforcement officers and school officials found the threats to be credible and concerning enough to warrant the lockdown until Dean could be located.


‘Private national’ back in court for traffic citations

JACKSON (WNE) — Bradly Watsabaugh was back in court Tuesday answering to unresolved traffic citations, one year after the Wyoming Supreme Court denied his request to overrule the infractions.

“I am here under threat and duress,” Watsabaugh told Teton County Circuit Court Judge James Radda. “I do not consent to this matter.”

Watsabaugh was arrested April 13 in Sublette County on a failure to appear warrant that stemmed from old Teton County charges of driving without insurance, driving under suspension and driving without valid registration.

The Jackson native renounced his Wyoming driver’s license years ago “for spiritual, religious and personal reasons” and claims he’s a “private American national,” which he says is different from a sovereign citizen.

Watsabaugh was pulled over in Teton County in July 2016 for driving with a homemade license plate, and when he refused the citations he was arrested.

A not guilty plea was entered, but Watsabaugh skipped his next court date and an arrest warrant was issued.

In court on Tuesday, Watsabaugh started reciting a 10-page document he filed with the court.

“I’m a little nervous,” Watsabaugh said. “We’ve been through a lot in here. You took my house without due process.”

“I took your house?” Radda responded.

“I’m challenging personal jurisdiction,” Watsabaugh said.

Watsabaugh previously said he removed himself from the government system in 2014 after officials took away the house he built on Budge Drive.

Radda asked Watsabaugh if he wanted to change his plea to the traffic charges or proceed to trial.

“I just want to make sure nothing I say here today is taken as my consent for jurisdiction,” Watsabaugh said.

Radda set the case for trial with a pretrial date of July 8.


Laramie school board to revisit softball vote

LARAMIE (WNE) — The school board for Albany County School District No. 1 is planning to take another vote later this summer on whether to commit to offering girl’s softball as a high school sport beginning in 2021.

Now that school boards in Cody, Gillette, Green River, Casper and Rock Springs have committed seven high schools to offer the sport, Wyoming just needs one more high school to commit before the Wyoming High School Activities Association agrees to sanction the sport.

In February, ACSD No. 1’s first vote to approve softball failed after a 4-4 split among school board members.

By early April, seven Wyoming high schools had committed to the sport, and local softball organizers have told the ACSD No. 1 school board to only expect the pressure they’re receiving to increase.

“There is definitely a spotlight that is now shining here in Laramie,” Laramie Girls Softball board member Nick Hauser told the school board earlier this month. “With that, there will definitely be a certain amount of pressure that will be pushed, not only from within our community, but from outside our community as well.”

Keith Ungrund, who organizes softball in Cody and has spearheaded much of the statewide effort, told the Laramie Boomerang that Laramie is now the “primary focus” while Cheyenne is “still a realistic prospect.”

School districts in Lander and Riverton are also planning to poll their students this spring to gauge softball interest, Ungrund said.

There’s also some interest for high school softball in Worland and Ethete.


Man pleads not guilty to stabbing

CHEYENNE (WNE) — The man arrested for being part of a duo that stabbed a Cheyenne man in January pleaded not guilty Thursday in district court.

Isaac Garcia plead not guilty to a felony charge of attempted first-degree murder, and aiding and abetting aggravated assault and battery, in a January attack on Jesus Franco.

Garcia and Joseph Sera are alleged to have stabbed Franco with knives as he was exiting a car with his girlfriend outside of her home. The two fled the scene after the attack.

Garcia was arrested in March, while police are still searching for Sera.

According to court documents, Franco knew both Garcia and Sera, and the incident was tied to Franco’s previous relationship with Sera’s girlfriend. Both Franco and his girlfriend were able to identify Sera and Garcia in a photo lineup after the attack.

Franco was rushed to the hospital after the attack with stab wounds in his head, left forearm and left wrist, along with other smaller cuts on his body. He spent two days in the hospital before his release.

In 2008, Garcia was found guilty of aggravated assault and battery with a deadly weapon and of burglary. Two other charges related to the 2008 case, second-degree murder and conspiracy, were dropped.


Man charged in connection with meth lab in basement

TORRINGTON – Timothy William Smith, of Torrington, faces a maximum 40 years in prison after being implicated in a methamphetamine production operation that was unearthed in his basement. 

According to court documents, the alleged meth cook, Tarique Jeske, sought medical attention after sustaining burns to his face, chest and hands in December. Wyoming Department of Criminal Investigation agents searched Jeske’s basement room – which was in Smith’s house – and found materials they allege were used to operate a “shake and bake” meth lab. 

During the investigation into Jeske’s alleged acts, agents found that Smith allegedly purchased pseudoephedrine cold medicine for Jeske, which is one of the key ingredients in methamphetamine. 

Smith has been charged with possession of a controlled substance precursor, with the intent to manufacture and conspiracy to attempt to manufacture a controlled substance. Both are felony charges that carry maximum sentences of 20 years in prison, a fine of $25,000 or both. 

Jeske pleaded not guilty to possession of a controlled substance precursor with intent to manufacture a controlled substance, possession of laboratory equipment or supplies with intent to engage in a clandestine laboratory operation, and one count of attempting to manufacture a controlled substance. 

If found guilty, Jeske faces 20 years and a $25,000 fine on each count. His trial is scheduled for July 29. 


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