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Wyoming News Briefs: February 10, 2020

School district sued over playground injury

CHEYENNE (WNE) — Laramie County School District 1 and playground equipment companies are being sued for negligence that allegedly caused an 11-year-old Cheyenne girl to suffer a fractured spinal vertebrae.

Scott Hunter and Heather Hunter are suing California-based Universal Precast Concrete and UPC Parks, Iowa-based Miracle Recreation Equipment Company, Colorado-based Churchich Recreation Equipment and LCSD1.

The Hunters are suing the playground manufacture companies for product liability and LCSD1 for negligence. The lawsuit is asking for a jury trial, with the amount in damages to be proven at trial. However, according to court documents the amount in controversy was listed as $3 million for the alleged incident and injury.

According to the lawsuit:

On Jan. 24, 2018, the 11-year-old girl, identified as L.H. Hunter, was playing on the Meadowlark Elementary playground on the Rocks and Ropes equipment. On this equipment, a child can shuffle across the bottom rope while holding a top rope to get from rock to rock.

During a time when there was allegedly a lack of adult supervision, a boy ran up and leaped onto the ropes while L.H. was shuffling between them. This caused the ropes to “violently swing” as L.H. “hung desperately” to the ropes, according to the lawsuit.

This caused L.H.’s back to become hyperextended and her spinal vertebrae to crush together, causing an acute crushed T5 vertebrae, hematoma and potential paralysis.

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Man sentenced to prison in 2003 shooting

LARAMIE (WNE) — A 41-year-old man who fatally shot a man in a Laramie parking lot in 2003 was sentenced to 12-18 years imprisonment last week after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter last year.

Fidel Serrano had appeared on an FBI’s Most Wanted List while he was on the lam for more than a decade.

After being brought back to Wyoming in 2018, Serrano was charged with first-degree murder.

However, prosecutors dropped the murder charge in exchange for Serrano pleading guilty to manslaughter after the man’s defense team offered a “sudden heat of passion” defense to the murder charge.

Voluntary manslaughter carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years, but Albany County District Court Judge Tori Kricken ultimately sentenced him to 12 to 18 years.

Two days before Serrano killed Galvan-Morales, the two had gotten into a fight at a dance in Cheyenne, witnesses told police.

Serrano’s attorney, Randy Hiller, said on Thursday that Galvan-Morales had claimed to have killed Serrano’s girlfriend.

The pair had been former co-workers at Rocky Mountain Forest Products on Laramie’s West Side. Serrano killed Galvan-Morales in the parking lot of the factory, which closed in 2007.

After killing Galvan-Morales and fleeing the U.S., Hiller said Serrano has been living a law-abiding life in Mexico.

“He has no other criminal history other than this case,” Hiller said.

Hiller said it’s likely that Serrano will be deported as soon as he is released from prison.

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Woman faces vehicular homicide charge in July accident

GILLETTE (WNE) — A Casper woman accused of killing two Michigan men July 15 when her truck drifted onto the wrong side of the road may have taken more than one medication before driving to Gillette.

Sydney N. Peterson, 33, was bound over to District Court on Wednesday on two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide after Circuit Judge Paul S. Phillips found probable cause to suspect her of the crimes.

The crash killed driver Stephen Biddle, 29, and passenger Alex Gill, 24.

A test of Peterson’s blood after the crash, which was about 23 miles south of Gillette on Highway 50, showed a high level of clonazepam, which a doctor with the Nebraska Regional Poison Center told investigators was “above the therapeutic level.”

A prescription bill bottle found in the cab of the truck showed that she had refilled the clonazepam that day, receiving 62 pills. But only 53 pills remained in the bottle, said Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper Anthony Alcon at Peterson’s preliminary hearing Wednesday. The prescribed dosage was one pill twice a day.

When Alcon asked Peterson at the scene what medications she had taken that day, she said she had taken gabapentin in the morning. She made no mention of clonazepam. But she later told another trooper who was following up on the case that she had taken one clonazepam pill before breakfast, Alcon said.

She also said she had taken a baclofen pill, a muscle relaxer which she also had been prescribed, Alcon said.

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