A man who shot his lover’s husband in the chest in Cheyenne five years ago after leaving his wife and kids behind in Nebraska may not have his prison sentence shortened, the Wyoming Supreme Court has ruled.
Timothy Leners, 53, was convicted by a Cheyenne jury in 2019 of attempted second-degree murder, then sentenced by a Laramie County District Court judge to 25-35 years in prison.
He left his wife and four children in Fremont, Nebraska, in December 2017, to start a new life with his “soul mate,” Mrs. Trout, of Cheyenne, court documents state.
When visiting Mrs. Trout at her apartment that winter, Leners got into a fight with the woman’s husband, Mr. Trout, ultimately shooting Trout in the chest while the pair wrestled on the ice outside the home, according to court documents and news reports.
Mr. Trout survived the shooting and testified against Leners at trial, rebutting Leners’ claims that he acted in self-defense.
Also working against Leners’ self-defense arguments were several phone calls Leners had recorded on his cellphone on his way to Cheyenne in which he called Mr. Trout a “troll, rapist and pig” and expressed a desire to kill Trout or anyone who got in the way of his happiness with Mrs. Trout, according to court documents.
“The phone calls were detailed and graphic,” the record states.
No Less Than 20 Years
Attempted second-degree murder is punishable by between 20 years and a life sentence in Wyoming. Probation is an option courts can exercise if necessary, but the judge who sentenced Lerner said probation was not appropriate because of the violent nature of the crime and the serious injury Trout sustained.
Leners asked for a new trial in 2021, saying his lawyer was ineffective. That motion was denied. He then asked for a sentence reduction Jan. 26, which the district court denied five days later. Leners asked the Wyoming Supreme Court to overrule that denial, saying the District Court judge has been biased against him throughout the proceedings.
The Wyoming Supreme Court disagreed, affirming Leners’ three-decade sentence in its Tuesday ruling.
A Supportive Wife
Leners’ wife helped him with his appeal.
Kathrine Leners wrote an affidavit for the appeal that described Leners’ crime-free life, service to his community, his disabilities (such as post-traumatic stress disorder) and her concern that he may not survive his harsh treatment in prison. She said Leners’ family needs him.
Leners was a U.S. Marine and was honorably discharged.
Part of Leners’ wife’s testimony is not usable in this type of appeal: she claimed that he is innocent of second-degree murder.
The high court wrote in its ruling Tuesday that a petition to have a sentence-reduction denial overturned is not the appropriate place to argue against a jury’s ruling, and that in most judicial proceedings the rulings of juries are considered final.
The Wyoming Supreme Court noted that accusing a District Court judge of prejudicing a defendant in his appeal is a serious claim. The high court also found no such bias in the Laramie County District Court Judge. The judge’s reasoning while reviewing Leners’ sentence addressed the facts of the case and conviction, not the judge’s attitude toward Leners, the high court wrote.
“Leners asserts that his proof of his actual innocence, inadequate medical treatment in prison, and, most especially the bias of the district court, together, distinguish this case from all others,” the ruling reads. “We have discussed each of these claims above and find no merit in his cumulative argument.”