Wyoming News Briefs
January 7, 2021
Legislature to convene for one-day virtual session
CHEYENNE (WNE) – The 66th Wyoming Legislature will convene at noon Jan. 12 for a one-day virtual session to fulfill the requirements of the Wyoming Constitution.
Gov. Mark Gordon’s message will take place at 2 p.m., according to a news release from the Wyoming Legislative Service Office.
During the convening of the 2021 general session, the Legislature will address all necessary business in accordance with the Wyoming Constitution, including, but not limited to:
• Election of legislative leadership;
• Adopt rules for the 66th Legislature;
• Receive a message from Gov. Gordon.
A video livestream of the House and Senate proceedings will be available on the Legislature’s website at www.wyoleg.gov. Gordon’s message will be livestreamed separately on Wyoming PBS’s YouTube channel at 2 p.m.
Members of the public are encouraged to view the proceedings online. The public may contact members of the Legislature directly using the contact information available on the Legislature’s website at www.wyoleg.gov/Legislators.
Members of the 66th Legislature will be sworn in during the week of Jan. 4 and the morning of Jan. 12 prior to the Call to Order.
The Wyoming Legislature will resume the 2021 general session at a later date.
Twins die of COVID at Cody home
POWELL (WNE) — Twin brothers who were found deceased at their Cody home late last month died from complications due to COVID-19, said Park County Coroner Tim Power.
Kurt and Michael Knight, who were 61 years old, died on Christmas Day, according to an obituary composed by their family.
“Kurt and Michael were very closely bonded, as only twins can be, their entire life,” their obituary says.
The Louisiana natives had lived together for years, and Kurt was an employee at Cody Regional Health.
Cody police responded to the Knights’ Sheridan Avenue home on the evening of Dec. 26, after a coworker reported one of the men had failed to show up for work and wasn’t answering phone calls.
Responding officers found the men had died in separate bedrooms, with no indications of anything suspicious, said Power, the coroner.
No one will ever know exactly what happened, Power said, but it appeared the Knights had become seriously ill from COVID-19 and “they just couldn’t do anything to help themselves, let alone each other, probably.”
Both brothers tested positive for COVID-19: one on Dec. 17 and the other following his death, Power said. Authorities found no indication the men sought emergency medical attention for the disease, he said.
Man accused of assaulting officer sentenced to probation
CODY (WNE) — A former Cody man accused of committing felony assault of an officer and committing a nearly day-long string of crimes will only face a $1,270 fine and six months unsupervised probation after being sentenced on Dec. 21.
Frank Denbow, 35, pleaded no contest to interference with a peace officer, reckless endangering, careless driving and criminal entry, all misdemeanors. A felony charge for causing bodily injury to a peace officer and misdemeanors for unlawful contact and property damage under $1000 were dismissed per his plea deal. Interference with a peace officer to cause bodily injury carries up to 10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines alone.
Denbow was accused of spraying a Cody Police officer with a carbonated energy drink and kicking him in the chest in October. The action didn’t stop when he had his first hearing in Park County Circuit Court, as he was tackled by sheriff’s deputies as the hearing ended.
Denbow insulted and interrupted both Judge Bruce Waters and State Prosecuting Attorney Larry Eichele multiple times during the entire court hearing.
After spending nine days in custody, Denbow’s family posted a $10,000 cash-only bond.
Although he was a Cody resident at the time of the incidents, he now lives in New Jersey.
Waters ordered Denbow “continue to follow all treatment recommendations made by treatment provider in New Jersey,” in his sentencing document.
Woman dies in accident north of Jackson
JACKSON (WNE) — A woman died Friday night after crashing into the Gros Ventre Junction roundabout just north of Jackson.
Speeding, alcohol and drugs are being investigated as factors in the roundabout wreck, Wyoming Highway Patrol Lt. Matt Brackin said.
The driver, Khlood Khalil Salah, was driving her rental car north just after 10 p.m. New Year’s Day when she was seen passing another car going 75 or 80 miles per hour, police said.
Salah’s GMC crossed the center lane and hit a barrier before launching into the roundabout.
“The car gets redirected and she gets ejected,” Brackin said.
Salah, of California, was pronounced dead on scene. Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue said her accidental death was due to head trauma.
Investigators are awaiting toxicology results to determine if alcohol or drugs were involved, Brackin said.
Brackin said Salah’s car was the subject of a 911 call two hours prior to the crash, where the caller suspected she was driving drunk in the town of Jackson. Officers were dispatched but couldn’t locate the car.
Brackin said they were still trying to piece together what Salah was doing in the hours leading up to the crash. Since the officers were called to the scene around 10:30 p.m., it would be unusual for her to be driving to the Jackson Hole Airport, where the last flight out was at 9 p.m., Brackin said.
‘Troubling’ car fire reported near Capitol
CHEYENNE (WNE) — Firefighters extinguished a vehicle fire Saturday morning in front of a government office complex near the Wyoming Capitol in downtown Cheyenne.
“We were dispatched at 7:39 a.m. to a vehicle fire that was threatening structures as the intersection of 26th Street and Capitol Avenue,” Andrew Dykshorn, battalion chief for Cheyenne Fire Rescue, said. “We observed a small four-door vehicle that was parked between the east and west buildings at the Herschler Complex and was actively involved in fire. One engine crew was able to extinguish that fire fairly quickly with no damage to the existing structure on either side of the car.”
Outgoing Cheyenne Mayor Marian Orr said she heard about the fire through a second-hand source and arrived on the scene around 9:30 a.m. According to Orr, fire rescue personnel reported to her that an accelerant was used in the fire.
Orr called the incident “troubling, especially in light of what just happened in Downtown Nashville,” referring to the Christmas Day RV bombing in Tennessee’s capital city, which left only the perpetrator dead and eight others injured.
“We still don’t know the reasons behind [Saturday’s fire],” Orr said. “As I leave office, I would ask the people of Cheyenne to be open to the fact that unfortunately the time has come to where we might not have as much access, as far as being able to drive up close to our Capitol and government buildings.”
Pinedale man killed in Hoback Canyon wreck
JACKSON (WNE) — Alarmed eyewitnesses called 911 about an erratic, swerving driver on New Year’s Day just minutes before her SUV crashed into another vehicle in Hoback Canyon, killing its occupant.
Twenty-eight-year-old Jade S. Jewkes, of Jackson, is being held in Sublette County Jail on charges of aggravated vehicle homicide, Wyoming Highway Patrol Lt. Klief Guenther said. Alcohol impairment is being investigated as a factor, but her blood alcohol level is not yet known.
Shane Deal, of Pinedale, was gravely injured in the crash, Guenther said, which happened at about 3:15 p.m. Friday on Highway 191 just north of Granite Creek. A helicopter picked him up and headed for Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, but weather diverted them to St. John’s Health, where Deal succumbed to his injuries. He was 39.
After buying a 1993 Ford F-250 truck with a snowplow in Idaho, Deal was driving the rig home to Pinedale, Guenther said, trailed by his sister, and Jewkes was northbound in a 2015 Jeep Cherokee Liberty. Her vehicle crossed into the southbound lane and struck Deal’s truck head-on.
Jewkes was treated for minor injuries at St. John’s Health, taken into custody by troopers and transported to the jail in Pinedale, where she is set to appear in a preliminary hearing Monday morning.
Man accused of trying to attack police
ROCK SPRINGS (WNE) — A Rock Springs man was arrested after allegedly charging police officers with a knife.
At 1:30 a.m. Monday, Dec. 28, officers of the Rock Springs Police Department were dispatched to the 1000 block of Evergreen Way for a physical disturbance.
Officers said they encountered Tommy Ortega, 18, who was allegedly destroying furniture and screaming at the officers. As the officers attempted to calm him down, he armed himself with a knife and charged the officers, according to a press release.
Officers used non-lethal techniques to bring him under control and into custody without injury to any of the officers or the suspect.
Ortega was placed under arrest and charged with alleged aggravated assault and battery, felony interference with a peace officer, felony possession of deadly weapon with unlawful intent, and misdemeanor interference with an investigation.
This case remains under investigation.