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From Wyoming News Exchange Newspapers 

Wyoming News Briefs

 

July 23, 2020



Cheyenne woman sentenced for throwing two-month-old daughter

CHEYENNE (WNE) — A woman who pleaded guilty to throwing her two-month-old daughter in a ditch was sentenced Monday to seven to ten years in prison, suspended for five years probation, by Laramie County District Judge Steven Sharpe.

Lillian Jeffrey was charged with one count of aggravated child abuse in connection with the incident in December 2017. She was also ordered to pay $17,260 and given credit for 538 days of jail time.

On Dec. 9, 2017, Jeffery is accused of throwing her baby in a ditch to “cleanse her.” Officers found the child lying on rocks in her shirt and diaper in December. There was a windchill of about 30 degrees Fahrenheit that night, according to court documents.

Medical professionals said the child had several abrasions, a skull fracture, a collapsed lung and internal bleeding, according to court documents. Jeffrey told officers that “K.J. (the child’s initials) was a demon and that she cleansed her.”

Jeffrey also admitted to officers that she had been using methamphetamine, according to court documents.

Sharpe said people may never know what motivated this crime, but he suspects it was done due to an altered mind – whether it was from postpartum depression or drug use is unknown.

At her sentencing, Jeffrey, and her attorneys, said she was diagnosed as schizoaffective – which is a mix of bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression and other symptoms – and she is now being medicated for those mental illnesses. She has also been successfully living at a sober living facility.

 

State’s first jury trial since pandemic goes smoothly in Gillette

GILLETTE (WNE) — The state’s first jury trial since the coronavirus pandemic took hold was in Gillette last week, and it went smoothly.

This spring, all jury trials were suspended until Aug. 3. The 6th Judicial District was picked as the testing ground for jury trials in a world with social distancing and held a criminal trial last week.

“We expect this pilot trial to help us set standards for resuming jury trials throughout the state,” said Wyoming Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael K. Davis in a press release earlier this month. “We’re very grateful to the judges and the citizens of Campbell County for their meticulous planning.”

District Judge Thomas Rumpke said the trial took three days to complete. It got done about half a day later than it would have under normal circumstances.

Because of the pandemic and social distancing, jury selection had to be done in two groups. Two sets of 18 potential jurors were brought in, and the selection process took about four and a half hours, starting at 8:30 a.m. July 13 and finishing at about 1 p.m. that same day.

The potential jurors were all given masks and hand sanitizer, and they “seemed to be very supportive” of the process, Rumpke said.

“It was a new experience for us,” he said. “There’s a lot more for the judge to keep track of.”

The trial took place in Courtroom 1, the largest courtroom at the Campbell County Courthouse.

The jury found William Wilde guilty of possession of marijuana and possession of meth with intent to deliver.

Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies sets up mobile pantry in Guernsey

GUERNSEY (WNE) — Almost 300 families were served Saturday, July 18, as the Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies mobile food pantry was set up and fully staffed with volunteers at First State Bank in Guernsey. 

“We’re excited to do this,” said local pantry coordinator Pat Russell. “It’s for anybody and there is no income guidelines, restrictions or anything like that.” 

People receiving the food donations were asked to give their names and where they lived, according to Russell. After giving the information, the cars drove through where each family was given a bundle consisting of a box of meat, a box of produce, a box of canned goods, a box of lightbulbs and a bag with snack bags of cookies and juice boxes. 

There were somewhere between 15 to 20 volunteers, according to Russell, and all the volunteers were asked to wear masks and gloves when handling and distributing and loading food to the people’s cars. 

Those who drove up were asked to stay in their cars, maintaining a safe social distance. 

For more information about the Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies, please visit: wyomingfoodbank.org/contact.

Man charged in sword attack

LARAMIE (WNE) — Paul Harper, former owner of Paul Paul’s House of Foods in downtown Laramie, was charged with second-degree attempted murder for attacking his friend with a sword.

If Harper were convicted of that crime, he would face a minimum prison sentence of 20 years.

The attack came during the early hours of July 13 when the victim — who told police he and Harper had been friends for four years — had been drinking at Harper’s house.

After Harper cut his friend several times on his left hand and wrist, the victim was life-flighted to UC Health Medical Center of the Rockies in Colorado, where a doctor said that the victim will “likely only be able to use his thumb and index finger in the future and would not be able to use the remaining digits,” according to a police affidavit of probable cause.

Harper and the victim, identified as E.B. in court documents, each gave conflicting accounts of what led to the attack.

After the sword attack ended Monday, E.B. fled the house and tried calling police. Unable to use his left hand, he later said he “had to manipulate the phone while it was tucked between his chest and his functioning right hand and it took a long time to call for help.”

Harper was the first to call police and gave conflicting accounts. He initially said he hit E.B. with the sword after the man had broken into the house.

Coin shortage hits Cody, bank offers reward

CODY (WNE) — A national coin shortage has reached the Big Horn Basin.

Pinnacle Bank is offering a special promotion where anyone, even people who don’t have an account with the bank, can bring their change to the bank to be exchanged for bills. Those who do may enter a drawing for a $50 Visa gift card.

The coronavirus pandemic is the culprit for the dearth of coinage in tills across the nation. The Federal Reserve says the pandemic has cut the amount of physical cash being spent, and that’s prevented change from reaching gas stations, bars and grocery stores throughout the country.

It’s become a serious enough problem that the federal government has organized a task force to recommend how to improve the circulation of quarters, nickels, dimes and pennies. The group’s first recommendations should come out near the end of July, including if the task force should continue to exist.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Mint said though production of coins did slow in April and May, the Mint was still able to fulfill all the orders by dipping into its coin reserves.

No mints that create circulation coins like quarters and dimes shut down, but staffing was reduced.

Tristi Oberheu, an assistant vice president at Pinnacle, said people have come in with as little as $5 in coins to as much as $500.

“Five-gallon buckets, the jugs for water dispensers, tiny little piggy banks,” have all come through the bank’s doors. They even have a wagon to help people bring heavy loads of coins.

Right now, Pinnacle is not charging nonmembers to get their coins sorted and exchanged for bills. That will last until the end of July, as will the opportunity to enter the gift-card drawing.

Ducks Unlimited theft case sent to district court

GILLETTE (WNE) — A Gillette woman accused of stealing nearly $240,000 over a four-year period from the local chapter of Ducks Unlimited has been bound over to District Court on charges of felony theft.

Jimi Dawn Crinshaw Clark, 46, the organization’s former chairwoman, could face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted.

Clark’s husband, Mike, also has been implicated in the theft. He was a board member while she was chairwoman and when they married. They made financial decisions for the chapter after they were married, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed in the case.

Mike Clark also faces a felony theft charge and made his initial appearance in Circuit Court on Thursday. A preliminary hearing was set for Aug. 3.

Both received $5,000 personal surety bonds.

As a condition of his bond, Mike Clark is not to discuss the case with his wife, Judge Wendy M. Bartlett said Thursday. He was not given travel restrictions.

Ducks Unlimited is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of wetlands.

Jimi Clark had been chair of the Gillette chapter for about five years when a new chairman took over in February 2018 and requested an audit of the group’s bank account.

An internal audit was conducted, and then the national Ducks Unlimited group reported the alleged theft to the Gillette Police Department in May 2019.

Firefighters contain more than 17,500-acre blaze south of Worland

POWELL (WNE) — A wildlife burned across 17,554 acres of short grass and brush south of Worland over the past week, but crews expected to have it fully contained by Monday night. 

The Neiber Fire started on July 14 along the Neiber Road, about seven miles south of the City of Worland on Bureau of Land Management and private property. While the official cause is listed as “unknown,” the BLM’s initial report on the fire said to “please do your part to prevent human-caused wildfires.” 

Fueled by hot, dry conditions, the fire threatened critical sage grouse habitat, grazing areas and equipment in the Murphy Dome Oil Field. 

However, fire managers said effective use of resources from the air and on the ground led to no oil and gas structures being lost. 

Firefighters from Washakie and Hot Springs counties, the BLM and the Bighorn and Shoshone national forests were among the first to respond to the fire. 

By Saturday morning, the Neiber Fire was 85% contained and some resources were released for other operations. After working to build a fire line in rugged terrain over the weekend, 100% containment was expected by the end of the day on Monday. 

“Although threats from active fire on the Neiber Fire have passed, recreation in the affected area can still pose risks,” Wyoming Type 3 Incident Management Team cautioned in Monday’s release. “Loss of vegetation loosens soils and increases the risk of flash floods in rough terrain after rainfall. Ash settles and disguises natural ruts or holes in tracks, trails, and rangeland.” 

They added that “fire danger in the area remains high and residents are encouraged to use caution.”

 
 

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