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NEWS BRIEFS for Wednesday, May 29, 2019

True Ranches worker charged for shovel attack

LARAMIE (WNE) — A ranch hand at True Ranches in northern Albany County is facing a felony for hitting a turkey hunter in the head with a shovel after the hunter allegedly came onto the ranch property.

Forty-four-year-old Scott Dunlap was charged with aggravated assault and battery for the April 24 incident.

According to the victim, he and his friend had spent two days turkey hunting near Laramie Peak in late April.

When the hunters headed back to town, they spotted turkeys off of Cottonwood Park Road and killed one with a shotgun only after “determining they were on BLM land,” according to an affidavit.

When one hunter went to grab the turkey, he was confronted by Dunlap upon returning to his truck.

Dunlap reportedly was holding the shovel in “port of arms” position and  “yelled at him for trespassing.”

After an “extremely short exchange,” Dunlap hit the hunter in the left temple with a shovel. The attack knocked the hunter unconscious, left a gash almost two inches long “cut to the bone” above his left eye and a “large amount of swelling.”

The hunter later received eight stitches at Ivinson Memorial Hospital.

When Dunlap was identified as the main suspect, the ranch hand confirmed to the Albany County Sheriff’s Office much of the events as the hunter had attested to. Dunlap confirmed he argued the hunters were on True Ranches property while the two men argued they were on BLM land.

The affidavit’s description of the hunters’ route indicates that the hunters would have needed to cross the ranch’s property to access the BLM land.



Sentencing delayed in case of man who raped ex-wife’s child

CHEYENNE (WNE) — A man who pleaded guilty to raping his former stepdaughter was granted a delayed sentencing Tuesday due to a recent surgery.

Porter Brown IV will be back in Laramie County District Court on July 8. He pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count of felony second-degree sexual abuse of a minor under the age of 16 by a person more than 13 years older than the victim.

It was one of six felony charges he faced as part of a plea deal with the Laramie County District Attorney’s Office. As part of that agreement, the DA’s office recommended a 10- to 15-year prison sentence. The total maximum sentence on all six charges combined would be more than 200 years.

Because of the plea deal, Brown’s victim would not have to testify during a trial.

Judge Steven Sharpe had earlier denied a motion to continue the sentencing hearing. But after hearing about a recent surgery, Sharpe allowed a continuation for Brown to receive subsequent medical care.

He is currently out on bond.

Brown was arrested in 2017 after his former stepdaughter came forward at her school and told a counselor he had continually sexually assaulted her over a period of two years. The 11-year-old girl said the sexual assaults had started when she was about 8 or 9 years old, when Brown had begun to date her mother.

According to court documents, Brown repeatedly sexually assaulted the girl when she was in his care throughout the relationship between Brown and the girl’s mother. The assault slowed down as the girl’s mother stayed at home during her pregnancy, and stopped after the girl’s mother gave birth to the couple’s child.


Poll shows Gillette teachers support concealed weapons

GILLETTE (WNE) — A majority of the teachers and staff in the Campbell County School District support allowing select employees to become concealed carry armed educators.

That’s the result of a quick week-long poll that ended Friday, conducted by Deputy Superintendent Kirby Eisenhauer.

A total of 916 people responded to the poll, more than half of the school district’s employees and teachers.

A total of 58.2 percent or 533 who responded said they were for the measure. Another 21.4 percent or 196 said they were against it and 187 or 20.4 percent said they needed more information.

Starting Monday, the school district will ask Campbell County residents, parents and students about how they feel about allowing educators to conceal carry guns as a safety measure in elementary and secondary schools.

That poll will ask the community for written responses and will end at the end of June. It likely will be discussed before the board’s budget hearing July 17.

Eisenhauer added that the teachers and staff provided 31 pages of comments with their poll, most of which asked about the criteria used to select those who would be armed and others about the training requirements.

“Our next step is to allow the community to make written comments,” he added. “It’s an opportunity for individuals to submit their views. … Then I feel we’ve exhausted about every opportunity we can to see how people feel about this.”


Man dies after falling into irrigation canal

RIVERTON (WNE) — One man was killed and another injured in an incident Friday when both fell into an irrigation canal in Riverton.

Riverton Police Department captain Todd Byerly said two males slipped into the canal, were transported about 500 feet by the water, then became trapped on “some sort of gate” in the canal system.

One man died, and the other was transported by emergency medical services for treatment.

Byerly said the incident appears to have been an accident, but the investigation is not complete.

Fremont County Coroner Mark Stratmoen said the dead man’s identity could not be released until after the notification of next of kin.

In addition to RPD and the coroner’s office, the Riverton Volunteer Fire Department water rescue unit also responded. The rescue and recovery effort was concentrated in an area along the Riverton Valley Irrigation District canal in an elevated area north of West Adams Ave. in Riverton, near Spire Drive.

Fremont County Search and Rescue commander Seth Rohn said it was an “odd rescue” and recovery, because it occurred in about only about 18 inches of water.

Others at the scene said they had seen the water level much higher than that earlier in the day, speculating that a headgate upstream might have been closed to lower the water level and assist the rescue effort.

Rohn had two volunteers on the scene. He also said the coroner and the investigator on the scene went to check on the surviving victim at SageWest HealthCare in Riverton.

Officials familiar with the case described the two men as young adults.


Saratoga man charged with attempted first-degree murder

SARATOGA (WNE) — A Saratoga man was charged with first-degree murder in connection with an incident that left his girlfriend with several serious injuries.

Authorities were dispatched just before midnight on Thursday to a trailer house on Saratoga Lake Road, where a caller reported that a female was yelling for help and saying her husband was trying to kill her, according to court records. 

After several knocks on the door, members of the Saratoga Police Department and Wyoming Highway Patrol were allowed entry by Kinsey Jade Vega, 26, into the trailer. Authorities would soon discover a woman, who appeared to have redness, discoloration and ligature marks on her neck and back. 

The woman told authorities that Vega had allegedly assaulted her several times after he came home and started to complain that the heat wasn’t turned on inside the camper trailer. 

The victim also said that Vega had allegedly put a knife to her throat during the incident, according to court records. 

After questioning, the woman was taken to Memorial Hospital of Carbon County, where she was discovered to have suffered a hairline fracture on her nose, swelling and abrasions on her cheeks, and lacerations on her finger and hand, among other injuries.

Vega, who’s also been charged counts of aggravated assault, strangulation of a household member and kidnapping respectively, had an initial appearance in Carbon County Circuit Court on Friday. 

His preliminary hearing is set for May 31 at 9 a.m. The case is still under investigation.


Jackson approves first new car wash in more than 20 years

JACKSON (WNE) — After more than 20 years Jackson will soon welcome a new car wash.

The Town Council recently approved one at the corner of Karns Meadow Drive and Broadway, the first since the nearby Shell car wash in 1998. Elected officials had some concerns about the environmental effect of the facility, especially considering its proximity to Karns Meadow. But ultimately they were satisfied with the project.

“They are making some efforts and strides to be environmentally friendly to the degree possible,” Senior Planner Tyler Valentine said.

Robert Infanger of Y2 Consultants, the agent for the property owners, said each car would require about 100 gallons of water. But the site’s water recovery system will allow reclamation and reuse of about 83 percent, so just 17 gallons from each wash will enter the town’s sewer system.

The recovery system consists of a series of underground tanks designed to filter sediment and oils as the water passes through. The water would be prevented from escaping into the surrounding area, which falls within the town’s “natural resource overlay,” a zone created to protect natural habitat.

“The technology in [car washes] these days is so advanced,” said John Huffman, co-owner of the property. “It’s so efficient from an environmental standpoint. … You could drink the water that gets reclaimed through there.”

Another system would deal with water in another form — the owners propose to heat the site’s pavement, avoiding the “ice skating rink scenarios that we get with many of our parking lots” in the winter.


Star Valley Guard unit deployed to Kosovo

AFTON (WNE) — Tuesday, May 28, came with flags, posters and well wishes as the Star Valley’s National Guard unit deployed. 

For the next several months the Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 297th Infantry Regiment will serve under the U.S. European Command as part of a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo.

The Star Valley Community held a send-off for the soldiers. The event took place at the Star Valley High School Football Field. 

U.S. Representative Liz Cheney, Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon, Major General Greg Porter, and the Wyoming Army National Guard command team  were in attendance.

“The mission you are going to perform is a  crucial one for the freedom of this nation,” said Rep. Cheney. “It is crucial for our alliances and for NATO.”

Rep. Cheney commended the soldiers and their families for being willing to make sacrifices and to serve.

Gov. Gordon pledged his support for Wyoming soldiers and their families.

“You have great leadership,” Gov. Gordon said. “You have great spirit because of the people that you are. You understand the value that the [American] flag brings to our lives. Thank you. God bless Wyoming and God bless America.”

The deploying soldiers are from Colorado, Montana, Utah and the Wyoming communities of Star Valley, Bondurant, Casper, Cheyenne, Cowley, Dubois, Evanston, Gillette, Green River, Guernsey, Jackson, Laramie, Lyman, Marbleton, Pinedale, Rawlins, Saratoga, Sheridan, Torrington, Wheatland, and Worland.

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