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Wyoming News Briefs: December 26, 2019

Man sentenced to up to 100 years on sexual assault conviction

WORLAND – Former Worland man Jason Miller received a sentence of 50 to 100 years imprisonment following a sentencing hearing in the Fifth Judicial District Court in Worland on Wednesday, Dec. 18.

Miller, 43, was found guilty of three felonies by a jury of six men and six women on Aug. 27, which included two charges of first degree sexual assault and sexual intrusion of a child under the age of 13 and one count of sexual assault and sexual intrusion of a minor under the age of 18.

A trial originally began in April but ended in a mistrial after Miller’s mother submitted evidence that had been ruled inadmissible. This led to a new trial occurring on Aug. 26-27, where Miller was found guilty of the three felonies.

All three counts carry a penalty of a minimum of 25 years and a maximum of 50 years in prison, which is the sentence handed down by Judge Bobbi Overfield Wednesday.

The first two sentences are to be served consecutively, which will add up to a minimum of 50 years and maximum of 100. The third count will be served concurrently in the Wyoming State Penitentiary in Rawlins.

Miller does receive credit for time already served. The specific amount was not noted at the hearing.

Miller’s sentence for these acts will begin after Miller serves a 10-year sentence in federal prison for possession of child pornography that he was found guilty of in 2018.


Yellowstone airport on verge of setting passenger record

POWELL (WNE) — Yellowstone Regional Airport in Cody is on the verge of a record-setting year.

The record 40,288 annual commercial airline boardings at YRA could fall with an average December of commercial enplanements, said airport manager Bob Hooper.

“That would be pretty good considering we were 14.5 percent down (in boardings) in the first five months of 2019,” Hooper said. “We really turned things around.”

The previous high was set in 2016 and through November, “we’re just 1,621 boardings off that mark,” Hooper said.

December enplanements in the last three years suggest a new record for boardings is within reach. YRA boarded 2,100 in December of 2016, 2,232 in 2017 and 2,166 in 2018.

United Express (Cody to Denver) is the only commercial airline flying a YRA schedule in December, with flights being partially subsidized by the federal Essential Air Service program. YRA started the year behind last year’s boardings because Delta Connection didn’t begin its scheduled service in and out of Cody until late in May.

Hooper already has good news to lay the groundwork for 2020 commercial flight numbers at YRA: Both United Express and Delta Connection will extend service next year, he said.

United Express will start its third flight daily to Denver on May 8, 2020, and a fourth daily flight on June 5.

Delta will extend its Cody flights to Salt Lake City by about a month in the spring and in the fall.


New Sweetwater solar rules allow for input by trona

GREEN RIVER (WNE) — Changes to the county’s industrial solar permitting rules, which would force developers to seek comments from the trona industry and state agencies like the Wyoming Game and Fish Department were approved by the Sweetwater County commissioners recently in a 4-0 vote.

The changes approved on Dec. 17 come after issues arose during the Sweetwater Solar permitting process. A second solar facility, Raven Solar, is proposed near the current Sweetwater Solar location.

“I think it’s a good change, a good addition,” Commissioner Randy Wendling said.

Craig Rood, representing Ciner, said he has nothing against the regulation changes and encouraged the commissioners to avoid permitting additional solar projects on land tied to trona leases.

“We’re not against solar,” Rood said. “We’re against solar on the trona reserves.”

Rood said large-scale expansions are being planned and solar facilities could impact those expansion plans. He also invited the commissioners to look at the Sweetwater Solar facility and see how it has impacted local wildlife.

Concerns about the project impacting wildlife migration were realized earlier this month when herd of more than 1,000 antelope were funneled onto the nearby highway. This impact was predicted by the Wyoming Game and Fish in written comments submitted to the county’s land use office during the Sweetwater Solar permitting process.


Man charged with felonies for attack on girlfriend

LARAMIE (WNE) — A 22-year-old Laramie man is being held on a $15,000 cash bond after being arrested Dec. 13 for numerous violent charges, including strangulation of a household member, a felony that carrying a maximum punishment of 10 years imprisonment.

Since his arrest, Levi Mann’s case has already been bound over to Albany County’s district court, which handles felony cases once probable cause has been established.

A Laramie Police Department officer responded to an apartment on West Jefferson Street around 2 a.m. on Dec. 13 after a domestic dispute was reported.

As police arrived, they heard a woman screaming and running doing the stairs. The woman had “blood all over her face and she was holding her face with her hands and blood was on her shirt,” according to a police affidavit.

When the victim spoke with police at Ivinson Memorial Hospital, she said that when she and Mann got home from the Christmas party, “she remembers being pinned up against the wall by the front door and the defendant yelling at her saying that he was going to kill her and her kids and then began to choke her.”

Along with strangulation of a household member, Mann has also been charged with aggravated assault and battery, interference with a peace officer, property destruction and domestic battery.

In a letter to the judge, the victim has since asked a no contact order to be lifted, said she had “no safety concerns” regarding Mann.

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