The Wyoming man accused of shooting his traveling companions to death on a Casper highway last month has been transferred to a higher court, where he’ll face two first-degree murder charges and one aggravated assault charge.
Luke Thomas Young, 26, was accused in August of shooting Acacia Colvin and Kameron Young-Johnson, both of Casper, to death with a .40 caliber pistol on Highway 20/26 near the Natrona County Airport.
The trio had spent most of the day together in a red Honda, delivering Fentanyl in small Wyoming towns, according to court testimony.
Judge Brian Christensen said he had found “probable cause” on Thursday to transfer Young to Natrona County District Court for felony-level prosecution. The decision came following a preliminary hearing featuring the testimony of Cory Brooks, an investigator for the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office.
Brooks said that Colvin, who died following at least five gunshots in different parts of her body, had contacted at least two people that day and asked them to take her home, away from the other two men and their “arguing.”
‘Racked A Round’
Brooks also related details from a police interview of Kyle Stalkup, who had been riding a “slow” motorcycle Aug. 9 at about 11 p.m. when he encountered a passenger car on the roadway and tried to let it pass him.
The car “jerked suddenly to the right,” and Stalkup believed that it had hit a deer.
Stalkup slowed down, “thinking he could offer some help,” said Brooks.
At that moment a female driver exited the car, knelt in the roadway, and screamed into the open driver’s side doorway. A man got out of the passenger side rear door, pulled a gun from his waistband and racked a round into it, Brooks said.
“He basically punches it out forward, in a punching motion, and aims it at Mr. Stalkup,” Brooks said.
Stalkup “dump(ed) his clutch” on the motorcycle and fled the area, but not before he saw what appeared to be a dead man slumped in the front passenger seat with a gunshot wound to the head, Brooks said.
As Stalkup drove away, he heard about five additional gunshots. Stalkup called 911 while fleeing on his motorcycle, Brooks said.
No One Responded
A Natrona County Sheriff’s deputy arrived on scene, finding Acacia Colvin dead, face-down on the south side of the road, the passenger side of the vehicle. There was blood splattered on the outside of the car around the front wheel well, and fresh divots and bullet fragments in the ground, Brooks said. Young-Johnson also was dead of a single gunshot wound in the front passenger seat of the car, with no shoes on, said Brooks.
Brooks said that when “the coroner,” presumably the Natrona County Coroner, later removed Young-Johnson’s body from the car, a 9 mm pistol was discovered stashed behind his right leg. He also said Young-Johnson’s hands did not show evidence of a struggle.
Investigators found Luke Young’s driver’s license in the back passenger-side arm rest compartment, Brooks said, but Young himself was not on the scene at that time.
Law enforcement personnel discovered a hypodermic needle that bore possible fentanyl dust. There also was suspected methamphetamine in the car.
Do Not Pick Up Hitchhikers
The Natrona County Sheriff’s Office that night dispatched a warning to the public “NOT” to pick up hitchhikers, and to report any sightings of Young, who was considered armed and dangerous and was a “person of interest” in a double homicide.
Brooks said a local business’s security camera caught footage of Young in dark clothing the night of the shooting.
A civilian spotted Young hopping fences across private property in the Casper area on Aug. 10 – the day after the alleged homicides – at about 2 p.m., according to statements by Brooks and public announcements by the sheriff’s office.
Young was arrested after the sighting and was found wearing light-colored clothing that Brooks described as ill-fitting; not the dark-colored clothing in which Stalkup had seen him.
There were no drugs or weapons on Young when he was found, said Brooks.
Young and his alleged victim, Young-Johnson, had been friends in prison, said Brooks.
Young’s defense attorney Dylan Rosalez later clarified that the pair met at the “boot camp,” which is a Wyoming program for young offenders.
Young-Johnson had picked up Young from Young’s prison work-release program days prior, on Aug. 2, said Brooks.
Citing phone text records, Brooks said the two men had a plan to deliver drugs into Wyoming’s Basin area on Aug. 9.
Young reportedly told one buyer that he had no shortage of fentanyl pills to sell.
Young, Colvin, and Young-Johnson left Casper that day in the Honda, Brooks said.
Brooks said that Colvin and Young-Johnson were “friends, but could have been more than friends.”
The two men showed off their guns to a drug buyer when they stopped in Worland, said Brooks.
Young, Colvin, and Young-Johnson then went to Basin to sell more drugs, looped back to Worland – sold more drugs – stopped in Shoshoni once again, then headed back to Casper, according to Brooks.
Colvin started texting her mother at about 7:49 p.m., asking if her mother could pick her up from Worland, but Colvin’s mother was unable to, said Brooks.
Colvin called another woman 8:06 that evening, again asking to be taken away from the men due to their “arguing,” Brooks said.
“She sounded (to the witness) like she was distraught, and she was speaking rather quickly,” he added.
Brooks said Colvin texted her mother again at 8:53 p.m., saying she was on her way home. Colvin was driving at that point, he said.
Brooks described the five gunshot wounds in Colvin’s body.
“The first was located in her left buttocks. The next was in the left hand. Another in the upper, left arm area; one through her chest cavity and one in the back of the head,” he said, adding that the first two were not kill shots.
Rosalez later clarified that the shot in Colvin’s hand entered through her palm. The shot in her “upper left arm” was somewhat in the shoulder area.
The shot through Colvin’s chest cavity would have paralyzed her, Brooks believed. It entered through the right side of her body, passed through the right lung, through her spinal cord, passed through her left lung and exited the left side of her rib cage.
During his cross-examination of Brooks, Rosalez challenged the means by which Young was identified in connection with the shooting.
Stalkup had identified Young by looking at the latter’s driver’s license photograph, telling law enforcement that the man on the driver’s license was the same man who had pointed a gun at him, Brooks said.
“And no photo line was ever done?” asked Rosalez.
“No,” responded Brooks.
“So the only time Mr. Stalkup was asked to identify the person he saw was with Mr. Young’s driver’s license?” Rosalez asked.
Brooks said yes, that was the case.
Rosalez also challenged other details, such as the bullets’ angles, the presumption that Young, who was found in pale clothing, was the same man seen by the witness and security cameras in dark clothing.
The defense attorney asked whether there could have been a fourth person in the Honda.
“That’s undetermined,” answered Brooks.
The two charges of first-degree murder are both punishable by life in prison, or the death penalty.
Natrona County Attorney Daniel Itzen in his closing remarks before the court said there was probable cause for the first-degree charges because Young had shown “premeditation.”
Itzen theorized that Young had planned to kill Young-Johnson first because the man was not driving.
“That’s part of the plan,” said Itzen. “You don’t kill the driver first. You kill the passenger. And this argument had been going on… for hours.”
Brooks did not describe what caused the argument.
Itzen also described the close-range gunshots as “exacting” and noted that Colvin was unarmed.