Wyoming Supreme Court Upholds Strangulation Charges Against Torrington Man

The Wyoming Supreme Court upheld the conviction of a Torrington who admitted to trying to strangle his girlfriend. The man said there was no factual basis for his conviction. However, the court said his admitting to the crime was factual enough.

Jim Angell

July 06, 20223 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

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A Torrington man’s answer of “yes” to questions of whether he strangled his girlfriend and stalked an ex-girlfriend was sufficient to support his convictions on criminal charges, Wyoming’s Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

The court upheld the conviction of Caleb Beeson, who pleaded guilty to charges of stalking and strangulation of a household member in state district court in Goshen County.

Beeson was accused of strangling a woman he was dating between Aug. 1 and Oct. 31 of 2018 and of sending text messages and emails to an ex-girlfriend between January and September of 2020 that were “reasonably likely to cause her emotional distress.”

During his change of plea hearing, as the court asked Beeson if he was guilty of the elements of the crime he was accused of, he responded largely with “yes, sir.”

The court accepted Beeson’s guilty plea and he was sentenced to from four and one-half to seven years in prison. 

But Beeson appealed, saying there was not a sufficient factual basis for the court to accept his guilty plea because of his brief answers to the questions.

First, Beeson said prosecutors failed to prove he was trying to harass his ex-girlfriend when he sent her texts and emails.

But justices, in the opinion written by Chief Justice Kate Fox, said the behavior Beeson admitted to in court showed he intended to harass the woman.

“He admitted his social media and email messages were written to cause her emotional distress and designed to manipulate her behavior,” the opinion said.

Similarly, Beeson argued prosecutors failed to prove that he had impeded the breathing or blood circulation of the woman he was convicted of strangling in 2018.

Beeson said when asked by the court whether he impaired the breathing of the woman, he answered “I believe so” which is too vague to establish factual basis for the guilty plea.

But again, justices found that when Beeson’s answers to other questions provided the factual basis for his conviction.

“Mr. Beeson provided a sufficient factual basis to establish he impeded (the woman’s) breathing or circulation …” the ruling said. “The district court therefore did not violate a clear and unequivocal rule of law when it accepted his guilty plea.”

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Jim Angell