New Zealand Sheep Shearer Pleads Not Guilty To Stabbing, Killing Boyfriend At Afton-Area Ranch

A New Zealand woman accused of stabbing her boyfriend to death while working on an Afton-area ranch with a sheep shearing crew gave a tearful "not guilty" plea Wednesday in Lincoln County District Court and is scheduled for an August trial.

Clair McFarland

March 22, 20236 min read

Monique Sullivan
Monique Sullivan (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

By Clair McFarland, State Courts And Crime Reporter 

A New Zealand sheep shearer accused of stabbing her boyfriend to death during their stay on a ranch near Afton pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a second-degree murder charge.  

With her arm bandaged from what authorities believe is a self-inflicted knife wound, Monique Huia Sullivan gave her plea Wednesday morning in Lincoln County District Court before Judge Joseph Bluemel. 

The Worst Thing That Could Happen To You 

The charge stems from the early morning hours of Feb. 20 when Sullivan’s boyfriend, Andrew Jacob Moore, died of a deep stab wound to his side after he and Sullivan had been arguing for at least a day prior.   

“Do you understand that the worst thing that can happen to you is you could be incarcerated in the Wyoming state penitentiary for women, for life?” asked Bluemel of Sullivan.  

Sullivan wept quietly.

“Yes, sir,” she answered.  

Bluemel asked her how she pleads.  

“Not guilty,” answered a still-tearful Sullivan.  

She had told Bluemel that despite the condition of her wrist, she was taking only “nerve-blockers” and was able to understand the arraignment.  

Deep Stab Wound 

According to an evidentiary affidavit filed in her case, Sullivan was implicated in Moore’s stabbing when Lincoln County Sheriff’s investigators were called to respond to the Taliaferro Ranch on Country Road 310.  

Meanwhile, workers at the ranch had taken Andrew Jacob Moore to the South Lincoln Medical Center in Kemmerer, where he succumbed to a “deep stab wound” to his left side, the document states.  

Sullivan also was taken to the hospital with a knife wound to her wrist.  

The pair were with a traveling group of sheep shearers from New Zealand and had been working together at the ranch, the affidavit says.  

‘Why Did You Do That?’ 

Stacy Hikawai, another shearer, told sheriff’s investigator Jody Garland that she and other workers were drinking together “heavily” that night in one of the camp trailer homes they used.  

Sullivan and Moore were drinking too, and had been arguing that whole day, Hikawai said.  

One of the men made an offensive comment toward Sullivan “as a joke,” Hikawai said, and Sullivan left the trailer and went to her own trailer.  

Hikawai went to comfort Sullivan, and Moore joined them later, the affidavit relates.  

The couple started arguing while Hikawai tried to sleep on the couch.   

At one point she woke and heard Moore say something like, “Why did you do that?” Hikawai recalled.

She said she saw blood gushing from Moore’s side, and noticed blood on Sullivan’s hands and a large bloody kitchen knife on the counter.  

Surgery While Under Arrest 

Hikawai said she fled the trailer to get help, and also because she feared for her safety.  

Other crew members put Moore in a pickup and took him to the hospital. They also told Taliaferro ranch owner Laura Pearson about the incident, the affidavit says.  

While at the hospital, Sullivan saw Moore’s coat sitting near an exam room and made what the affidavit describes as a “spontaneous utterance” that she had stabbed him.  

The emergency room doctor said Sullivan would be going to Utah for more comprehensive treatment of her own knife wound on her wrist.  

Deputies arrested Sullivan before the trip to Utah, and a deputy went with her to the University of Utah Medical Center in Salt Lake City where, when the affidavit was being written, she was scheduled to receive surgery.  

Closer Than Expected 

Sullivan also spoke with Garland on the day of her arrest, the affidavit says.  

She told Garland that she didn’t want to join the other shearers in their drinking, but ultimately drank “several beers” with them anyway, the affidavit relates.  

She and Moore had not been getting along, and Sullivan said he was rude and verbally abusive.  

After Sullivan and Hikawai went to Sullivan’s trailer together, Sullivan sometime later went back to the drinking party and asked Moore to speak to her, she recalled.  

They argued again, and he was “verbally abusive” and called her profane names, Sullivan told Garland, according to the affidavit.  

She went into a “rage,” grabbed a knife and jabbed it in his direction, she said. But Moore was standing closer to her than she’d realized, so she ended up stabbing him with the knife, the affidavit relates.   

Garland asked if Moore was physically abusive and if she, Sullivan, felt she needed to act to defend her life.  

Sullivan said no, she was just angry, the affidavit says.  

The Book Report On Your Life 

Bluemel on Wednesday after hearing Sullivan’s plea ordered probation and parole researchers to compose a pre-sentence investigation report on her life.  

Those reports usually detail a person’s history, character, issues and nature so that a judge understands each defendant well before sentencing him or her.  

It is more common for judges to order pre-sentence investigation reports for people who have pleaded guilty or who have been convicted than for people who have pleaded not guilty and are anticipating trials.  

Sullivan’s attorney Mike Bennett objected to the order, saying that Sullivan should not be giving any intimate life details to people in “the executive branch” of government while preparing for a trial.  

“These questions directly involve her past relationships, whether there was a history of domestic violence, domestic abuse, not only with the alleged victim but in her past relationships, her childhood growing up,” said Bennett.

He said if Bluemel were to order the report anyway, he’d ask for the report to remain confidential.  

Bluemel overrode Bennett’s objection and ordered the report, but he assured Bennett that the report would be private and prosecutors would not be able to access it.   

Bluemel said ordering the report at this juncture in the case prevents delays later on.  

“If there’s an acquittal there’s nothing lost, if there’s a dismissal there’s nothing lost,” said Bluemel. “But if there’s some resultant conviction or plea agreement, frankly, it moves things at a much faster pace.”  

Sullivan is scheduled for trial Aug. 21 and remains in the Lincoln County Detention Center. 

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter