By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
A man convicted of conspiring to blow up another man lost his latest appeal to the Wyoming Supreme Court.
The court on Tuesday unanimously rejected the appeal of Ryan Alexander Brown, who asked that his life sentence be overturned because of a slight difference between the life sentence announced in court by the judge in his case and the written version of the same sentence.
Brown was convicted in 2015 of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder for conspiring with two other men to kill a Cheyenne man he believed was having an affair with his wife. The plot involved a homemade pipe bomb that was to be installed in the man’s car.
When issuing the sentence in court, the judge announced that Brown would be sentenced to “a term of natural life, according to law.”
But the written version of the sentence said Brown would be sentenced to prison for “the length of his natural life” and did not mention “according to law.”
Brown alleged in November 2020 that his sentence was illegal because of the differences and asked that it be corrected. The state district court in Albany County simply changed the written record of the sentence to add the phrase “according to law.”
Brown appealed the action, arguing a sentencing hearing should have been held before the change was made.
But justices, in the opinion written by Justice Lynne Boomgaarden, said a sentencing hearing would only be warranted if substantial changes had been made to Brown’s sentence by the district court.
“There being no change in his sentence, Mr. Brown had no constitutional right to a sentencing hearing,” the court ruled.
Brown also argued his sentence was improper because it originally mentioned the possibility of parole, but when it was changed, the mention of parole was removed.
Under Wyoming law, anyone convicted of conspiracy to commit a crime faces the same punishment as if they were convicted of the crime itself. The only two punishments for first-degree murder are the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Justices said when Brown’s written sentence was corrected, it properly removed the erroneous reference to a possibility of parole.
The appeal was the second stemming from Brown’s conviction. In 2016, justices rejected his arguments that some evidence against him in his trial was improperly introduced.