Wyoming News Briefs
March 10, 2022
Man who tried to run over deputy gets up to 15 years in prison
GILLETTE (WNE) — A Moorcroft man who was found guilty of trying to run into a sheriff’s deputy while fleeing from law enforcement in the spring of 2020 will serve up to 15 years in prison.
Last week, Nathan Schuerman, 42, was sentenced to 13.5 to 15 years for aggravated assault and possession of a deadly weapon.
In April 2020, Schuerman tried to drive his truck head-on into a deputy’s vehicle while fleeing law enforcement.
In a jury trial in December, Schuerman was found guilty of two counts of aggravated assault, possession of a deadly weapon and aggravated eluding, all felonies, as well as misdemeanor counts of destruction of property and reckless driving.
Schuerman also was sentenced to 180 days in jail each for the destruction of property and reckless driving. He’ll get credit for time served in both of those cases. At the time of his sentencing, Schuerman had been in jail for 607 days.
Schuerman said he was “sorry for losing control” that day. He was going through “a lot of stuff” but said that’s not an excuse for his actions.
“I still don’t know why I ran, but I did and I’ve got to deal with it,” he said, adding that he knows he “put a lot of people in danger that day. That wasn’t my intent.”
He said that spending nearly two years in jail has given him a lot of time to think and clear his mind.
Before he led officers on the pursuit, Schuerman had been drinking alcohol and using cocaine.
Bill would give hunters additional chance to donate to access and wildlife projects
POWELL (WNE) — A popular bill would give hunters who are unsuccessful in acquiring a tag in limited quota draws the option of donating application fees back to the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust and/or to the Game and Fish Department to be used for sportsperson access projects and wildlife crossings.
Unsuccessful applicants could choose all or portions of the application fee to be donated and where donations would go.
Application fee refunds are a substantial amount of money, Wyoming Game and Fish Department Director Brian Nesvik said during a Senate Travel, Recreation, Wildlife & Cultural Resources Meeting last week.
“The three-year average that we refund back [to unsuccessful applicants] is $47 million per year,” he said.
Nobody expects that all unsuccessful hunters will donate all or portions of their application fees, but “even a small percentage of folks who choose to do this could mean a significant source of revenue” to the agencies, Nesvik said.
The bill adds one more way for hunters to donate back to the agencies, similar to previous efforts including adding a donation option for access when applying for tags and licenses or buying the Wyoming Conservation license plate, which funds fencing and over- and under-passes to help decrease vehicle collisions with wildlife.
There are more than 6000 vehicle/wildlife collisions per year in the state.
“These little ways [to increase donations] have added up to some fairly substantial dollars,” said Rep. Albert Sommers, R-Pinedale.
The bill previously passed the House with a 47-12 vote — with all Big Horn Basin representatives except Rep. Dan Laursen, R-Powell, in support — and is expected to soon face a third and final vote in the Senate.
Plan aims to stop oxygen tank fires
CODY (WNE) — Fire marshals across the state are working to prevent one of the leading causes of deadly house fires in the state.
A new initiative aims to, at no cost to the person, install safety valves on medical oxygen tubes that can stop fires caused by oxygen tanks from spreading.
“This started after a statewide study showing how many fires are caused from home oxygen while people are smoking, that’s what kicked off the initiative,” said Cody’s fire marshal Sam Wilde. “It doesn’t cost anything, we provide the kit, install it for free.
“It’s a win-win situation.”
Wilde said while the initiative was slowed soon after starting by the pandemic and restrictions on going into people’s homes to install the devices, he has already worked with local providers of oxygen to get the devices installed on new tanks before they go out.
Now he wants to get the word out to residents.
It’s the initial drive of the Community Risk Reduction Team to install inline O2 cannula thermal devices in 100% of all identified homes using medical oxygen in Wyoming, in an effort to eliminate all Wyoming fatalities and injuries due to smoking in the presence of home medical oxygen by Jan. 1, 2025.”
To request a device, people can go to the State Fire Marshal website, wsfm.wyo.gov/fire-prevention/307crr.
Man gets up to 71 to 85 years in prison for sex crimes
GILLETTE (WNE) — A Gillette man will spend the rest of his life in prison for sexual assault and sexual abuse.
John Mills, 45, was sentenced to 71 to 85 years in prison Tuesday for three counts of first-degree sexual assault, six counts of third-degree sexual abuse of a minor and one count of sexual battery.
Mills, who was found guilty of these crimes in a November jury trial, maintained his innocence when he was sentenced in District Court. He had been accused of sexually abusing two girls in Gillette over several years.
The girls said they were paid by Mills, usually $200, because he knew they were destitute. Their mother joked with them about it and called having sex with Mills “the bank of John Mills,” according to an affidavit. The mother was acquitted of all charges against her during a jury trial.
Mills was sentenced to 35 to 40 years in prison for the first-degree sexual assaults and a consecutive sentence of 36 to 45 years in prison for the third-degree sexual abuse of a minor.
Deputy County Attorney Nathan Henkes said the crimes Mills was found guilty of are “as grotesque and offensive” as a crime can be.
Mills’ attorney, Joanne Zook, said Mills was acquitted of 12 of the 22 charges he originally faced; she suggested he may not be guilty of the remaining charges.
Mills befriended two girls, sending them messages, asking to see them and occasionally buying them presents, according to court documents.
In the summer of 2014, one girl met with him because some bill needed to be paid and he forced her to have sex while his pickup was going through an automatic car wash.
He also was accused of sexually abusing the girls at his home, sometimes forcing them to use drugs.
WYDOT installs new dynamic messaging signs
SHERIDAN (WNE) — The Wyoming Department of Transportation recently installed two dynamic messaging signs at two mountain route locations.
These electronic signs were installed to inform travelers of conditions or closures on these two mountain passes.
Dynamic message signs are one of many structures the Wyoming Department of Transportation’s traffic programs use to promote road safety and awareness. The goal of the DMS is to provide travelers with information about unique driving conditions, events and alerts — in this case, at mile marker 82.59 on U.S. Highway 14 west of Dayton and mile marker 88.56 on U.S. Highway 16 west of Buffalo.
Contractors have spent the past few months installing these structures, which included bringing a power supply and communications system to the boards. Construction of the DMS boards has been completed and a 30-day testing period will begin March 2.
Travelers’ will see the message “TEST” on these two boards for the next few weeks. This testing period allows WYDOT’s Traffic Management System to validate the system and make sure messages on the boards can be managed remotely.
Once the testing period is over, the DMS boards will be used to inform travelers of road conditions, traffic alerts, closures and other relevant messages.