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Wyoming News Briefs: October 30, 2019

SVI Media is part of the Wyoming News Exchange. These stories come courtesy of the WNE.


Man charged with second-degree murder in stabbing death

DOUGLAS (WNE) — A charge of second degree murder was filed Oct. 18 in district court as details emerge on the stabbing case that resulted in death earlier in October.

James Box, 31, of Casper, admitted to investigators that he allegedly stabbed his father, Mickey Box, also of Casper, after an argument that turned into a fight, according to court documents.

In the police affidavit, James stated that he and his father got into an argument that turned into a fight Oct. 2. After the fight inside the residence, he took a knife from the counter and went to the garage. While he was attempting to leave in Mickey’s vehicle, Mickey came at James, according to court documents.

James stated that he ducked under his father and stabbed him twice in the back, where Mickey went to the corner of the garage and kneeled down for a period of time. Mickey then allegedly picked up a shovel handle and hit James in the left shoulder, according to the affidavit.

James then got into Mickey’s truck while Mickey came around the front of the truck and got in the passenger side of the vehicle and started hitting James again. James then stated that he stabbed Mickey several times in the chest and side, according to the affidavit.

Mickey was taken to Memorial Hospital of Converse County where he died a week later.

Second degree murder is punishable by a maximum of life in prison and $10,000 fine.


Man in pot trafficking case gets 5 years

LARAMIE (WNE) — A man who was initially charged by local prosecutors last year was sentenced to five years imprisonment Monday by a federal judge for possessing a gun while traveling on Interstate 80 with about 65 pounds of marijuana.

The 54-year-old Texas man, David Murray, was arrested in November at the Petrol Fuel Station, where a Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper found defendant with the marijuana and a loaded Smith and Wesson .40 caliber handgun that had a round in the chamber.

The gun prompted federal prosecutors to take an interest, charging him with “carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime” in December. Murray pleaded guilty to that charge in July.

The U.S. Attorney for Wyoming, Mark Klaassen, has expressed a particular interest in prosecuting gun crimes. The Gillette native assumed office in November 2017.

Murray’s arrest came when a Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper noticed a gray passenger vehicle driving at about 15 mph under the posted speed limit on I-80 on Nov. 23. He followed the vehicle to Petro Fuel Station and made contact with the driver, Murray, who said his brother had rented the vehicle for him.

When the trooper asked to see the rental agreement, he smelled “the strong odor of raw marijuana coming from inside of the vehicle,” according to his affidavit.

The trooper searched Murray’s vehicle and found three black garbage bags filled with marijuana and dryer sheets.


Laramie County last to join statewide mutual aid agreement

CHEYENNE (WNE) — Now, every county in Wyoming can receive assistance from its neighbors in case of an emergency.

Laramie County became the final county to sign onto the Wyoming Inter-County Mutual Aid Agreement earlier this month.

Counties have previously helped each other through regional agreements, but the main point of the statewide agreement is to clarify the operating plan, according to Rich Ochs, president of the Wyoming All Hazards Association.

“A lot of these counties were part of the agreement before they signed it,” Ochs said. “They would help each other out on a regular basis.”

But before, there wasn’t a universal guideline for who was responsible if someone was injured or if equipment was damaged. The statewide agreement outlines specifics such as workers’ compensation, liability and cost.

“Those are some of the things it covers, just to make sure the good relationships that exist stay good, even after a deployment for a disaster,” Ochs said.

Without those specifics, Ochs said aid efforts can cause problems between counties.

“If you don’t talk about who’s going to pay for what, that can turn something that was a neighbor helping another neighbor into a situation that sours a relationship between two counties,” Ochs said.

The Wyoming All Hazards Association established the agreement in 2013 to provide a framework for statewide aid. The first counties to sign on were in the western part of the state, which helps explain why Laramie County was last to sign on.


Woman sentenced in overdose case

JACKSON (WNE) — A Star Valley woman who provided heroin to a man who died of an opiate overdose in 2017 will serve a year in county jail and a subsequent five years of probation.

Teton County District Court Judge Timothy Day sentenced Sarah Valley, 42, of Alpine, on Tuesday. Though he lauded her newfound sobriety and community involvement, he said he had to balance that against the need for justice and a deterrent against drug crimes.

The case arose from the death of Wesley Kiggins, a former Jackson resident who was visiting town when he suffered an overdose on Jan. 14, 2017. After a long investigation, police charged Valley with criminally negligent homicide and delivery of heroin.

In a plea bargain, prosecutors dropped the negligent homicide charge and Valley pleaded no contest to the felony delivery of heroin charge.

Most notably the police investigation led officers to a second drug dealer, Jacob Brown, who sold Kiggins morphine sulfate two days before his death. Brown was arraigned Oct. 8 in Teton County District Court on a felony charge of delivery of a schedule II narcotic. He entered a not guilty plea.

Because of the short time involved and because metabolized heroin appears in the bloodstream as morphine, Teton County Deputy Prosecutor Clark Allan said it’s hard to prove which drugs caused the overdose.


Accused murderer says he acted in heat of passion

TORRINGTON (WNE) – The defense team for accused murderer Jamie Snyder has filed a document in the Eighth Judicial District Court to indicate an affirmative defense, claiming that Snyder acted in the “Sudden Heat of Passion” when he allegedly fatally stabbed Wade Erschabeck last year.

In the Notice of Affirmative Defense, defense attorney Jonathon Foreman wrote the filing “gives notice to the State of the Defendant’s intent to possibly introduce at trial evidence of an affirmative defense, specifically Sudden Heat of Passion, in that if the Defendant were to bear any criminal liability for the death of Wade Erschabeck, Mr. Snyder should be found to have acted via Sudden Heat in Passion, pursuant to a theory of Voluntary Manslaughter.”

Snyder will stand trial on Feb. 10, 2020. He is charged with one count of murder in the first degree and faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Snyder is accused of fatally stabbing Wade Erschabeck in May 2018.

Early in the proceedings last May, Snyder told law enforcement officials that he attacked the victim in self-defense, and maintained that was the reason during his initial appearance before Arp.

According to the affidavit of probable cause filed in the case by Sheriff Kory Fleenor, an eyewitness to the stabbing alleged Snyder aggressively followed a pickup truck the eyewitness and Erschabeck were riding in to a friend’s house.

The witness reported he saw Snyder exit his truck, and that Snyder then “aggressively and very quickly moved around the front of the pickup and stabbed Erschabeck in the chest,” the affidavit said.

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