Two Cheyenne teens implicated in the shooting death of a 16-year-old girl appeared Thursday in Cheyenne Circuit Court to hear the charges against them.
Tirso Munguia, 19, faces one count of involuntary manslaughter following reported admissions that he was handling the 9 mm pistol that fired a bullet into the head of 16-year-old Angelina Harrison on Monday evening. If Munguia is convicted, the manslaughter charge is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
Cody Nicholson, 18, faces a felony charge of accessory after the fact given reports that he fled the death scene on foot, unloaded the pistol and stashed it in a closet at his grandmother’s house. The charge is punishable by up to three years in prison and $3,000 in fines.
Munguia told police he was sitting in the back of a vehicle while a 26-year-old woman was driving. Munguia sat behind Harrison, who was in the front passenger seat, and Nicholson sat behind the driver, according to evidentiary court affidavits filed Wednesday.
Nicholson took the gun out of his sweatshirt pocket and put it on the seat between him and Munguia, both men told police.
Munguia started “manipulating” the gun with his hands, the affidavits relate.
“Be careful, there’s one in the head,” Nicholson reportedly said.
Nicholson was looking at his phone and Munguia was still handling the pistol when the weapon “just went off,” according to the men’s interviews.
A bullet struck Harrison’s head. She appeared unresponsive and was bleeding from her mouth, according to the account of Nicholson’s interview.
Mall Parking Lot
The car then parked in the Frontier Mall parking lot.
When police arrived at 6:03 that evening, they found Harrison on the ground outside the vehicle and Munguia trying to give her medical aid.
Officers brought Munguia to the Cheyenne Public Safety Center, told him his Miranda rights and interviewed him, the affidavit in his case says.
The affidavit says Munguia in his interview at first said he didn’t know who Nicholson was, but later said he’d known Nicholson for years.
Meanwhile, Nicholson had fled the scene on foot before police arrived. Authorities at first considered that Nicholson may have been the shooter, his affidavit says.
While fleeing, Nicholson got a family member to drive him back to his apartment. During the drive he unloaded the remaining bullets and left them in the relative’s vehicle, the document says. After he got home, he went to his grandmother’s house next door and put the gun under a blanket in a closet of her home.
“Nicholson confirmed he has never stored the firearm in the closet prior to the incident,” the affidavit says, adding that Nicholson told police he changed his clothes at his grandmother’s home, putting his discarded clothes in a dirty laundry pile next to the washing machine.
Appearing virtually for his initial hearing in Cheyenne Circuit Court, Munguia spoke quietly and sounded tearful.
Wyoming Public Defender Supervisor Diane Lozano appeared briefly to address the case, saying there’s a conflict in her case preventing public defenders on staff from representing Munguia, but the office can appoint a private defender to represent him.
Judge Sean Chambers assigned Munguia a $150,000 cash-only bond after William Edelman, deputy district attorney for Laramie County, emphasized “the severity of the crime” and indicated that the possible 20-year prison term for the felony charge increased Munguia’s flight risk.
Felony Accessory Charge
Nicholson also appeared in court Thursday, receiving a $10,000 cash-only bond.
He is charged with accessory after the fact in an involuntary manslaughter for his alleged hiding of the pistol and fleeing from the scene.
In Wyoming, it’s a felony to cover up a murder or manslaughter after the fact if the defendant is not related to or married to the suspect – but it’s only a misdemeanor in the case of a relative.
Nicholson is not Munguia’s relative, the judge said, and so faces up to three years in prison instead of a maximum six months in jail.
Nicholson also faces probation revocation for his probation set on Sept. 7, 2022, following his guilty plea for driving under the influence of alcohol.
Chambers said the state is alleging that Nicholson missed mandatory test dates and submitted “a diluted test sample” on Sept. 27.
Nicholson said he should have a doctor’s note for the test dates he missed.
Both cases are ongoing.