By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily
A Casper man who killed his girlfriend by backing into her with her own car must stay in prison, the Wyoming Supreme Court ruled this month.
A jury in March 2021 convicted Jerald Thomas Fallon, 42, of voluntary manslaughter and aggravated assault.
Court documents say he accelerated to about 40 miles per hour, in reverse, for 137 feet and rammed Kelly Black in the bottom and lower back, launching her about 76 feet.
Because Fallon fell under Wyoming’s definition of a habitual criminal, he faced longer terms on both charges and now is serving two life sentences in prison.
Fallon appealed the conviction, arguing the state was wrong to give the jury two charging options to choose from: second-degree murder or voluntary manslaughter.
Voluntary manslaughter is a lesser-included offense of second-degree murder, which means a jury may choose to convict someone with it even when charged with the higher murder offense. But a jury only can choose voluntary manslaughter if a defendant shows the act was without malice in a heat of passion.
Fallon argued in his appeal that the roughly half-hour between the party and Black’s death had given him enough time to calm down, so he didn’t kill her in a heat of passion.
He had argued at his trial last year that Black’s death was a tragic accident.
The Wyoming Supreme Court disagreed, ruling Sept. 9 against overturning Fallon’s conviction.
There was enough evidence for prosecutors to give the jury the “voluntary manslaughter” option, the court ruled.
“We further find the evidence was sufficient to support the jury’s guilty verdict on … voluntary manslaughter,” the ruling says.
Didn’t Hit The Brakes
Fallon and Black went to a party together Feb. 29, 2020, at the Hilton Garden in Casper, according to court documents.
Black reportedly “did shots” with other men, was loud and very drunk at the party. Fallon became agitated and complained about Black in text messages to Black’s daughter.
Black confided to another woman in the ladies’ room that she was scared to leave with Fallon.
Ultimately, Fallon clutched Black’s arm, dragged her out of the hotel and drove off with her in her Nissan, according to court documents.
Roughly 30 minutes later near the U.S. 20-26 Bypass and Interstate 25 interchange, Fallon backed Black’s car into her.
Evidence indicates Fallon did not apply the brakes.
The seam pattern from the back pocket of Black’s jeans left a faint imprint on the back bumper of the car.
Her jacket, shirt, shoes and other personal items remained at the scene of impact, splattered with blood. An eyewitness came upon the scene and saw Fallon drag Black 45 feet and then cram her, topless, into the passenger seat of the car, slamming the door on her legs, documents state.
Fallon drove away after the eyewitness asked if he needed help.
When law enforcement reached Fallon, he bolted from the car on foot.
Two days later, police found Fallon at the home of a coworker, court documents state. The coworker told police that Fallon said he needed to stay there because he’d been fighting with Black.