By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
Wyoming’s Supreme Court has rejected the latest appeal of a man convicted of killing a toddler in 2018.
Justices on Friday issued a memo rejecting the latest appeal of Jesse James Hartley in his felony murder and child abuse convictions stemming from the death of 2-year-old Brandon Green.
Hartley was found guilty by a jury in May 2019 of felony murder and aggravated child abuse in the death of 2-year-old Brandon Green one year earlier.
Hartley was taking care of the boy at the Mountain View home he shared with the boy’s mother when the death occurred and he claimed the child was found facedown in a bathtub. Medical examiners found no evidence of drowning, but did find evidence of brain hemorrhage consistent with repetitive, violent shaking, along with extensive bruising.
Hartley was sentenced to life with the opportunity for parole on the felony murder conviction. Felony murder occurs when someone is killed in the course of a felony — such as aggravated child abuse. Hartley was also sentenced to 18 to 25 years on the charge of aggravated child abuse.
In an earlier appeal in 2020, the Supreme Court said Hartley could not be sentenced for both crimes because the crime of aggravated child abuse was an element of the felony murder charge. A sentence for both, justices said, would amount to multiple punishments for one crime.
The sentencing court in Uinta County eliminated the sentence for aggravated child abuse and imposed a sentence of life in prison for the felony murder conviction.
Hartley filed his latest appeal on his own after his court-appointed attorney asked to withdraw as his counsel. Although the court’s memo did not go into detail, it said Hartley appealed his conviction rather than the sentence and that only the sentence could be addressed by justices at this point.
“Such claims could have and should have been made in his (initial) appeal from his convictions and are not proper given the limited nature of this court’s remand,” said the memo, which also upheld Hartley’s life sentence.