A Venezuelan immigrant accused of hurling a beer bottle at another immigrant in Gillette is claiming authorities cannot prosecute him because of Wyoming’s stand your ground self-defense law.
Wilquerman Monsalpe, 30, filed a motion for a hearing in Campbell County District Court on Monday to argue that his alleged actions were covered under stand your ground and that he deserves immunity from prosecution.
Dallas E. Lamb, senior assistant public defender in Gillette, penned the filing on Monsalpe’s behalf.
The motion reasons that Monsalpe’s co-defendant, Lewis Paez-Florez, 37, whose name is sometimes spelled Paez-Flores in court documents, started the fight.
“Wilquerman Monsalpe did not have a duty to retreat and resorted to deadly force, throwing a singular intact beer bottle only upon being engaged by Paez-Florez, (who was) brandishing a broken beer bottle,” says the motion. “The Defendant had a right to stand his ground against an assailant that was the initial aggressor and had a drawn deadly weapon.”
Lamb argues in his motion that Monsalpe resorted to potentially deadly force to prevent serious bodily injury or death to himself.
Monsalpe and Paez-Flores each face one charge of aggravated assault, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
Don’t Even Prosecute
Passed into law in 2018 with approval from both chambers of the Wyoming Legislature but without the signature of then-Gov. Matt Mead, the stand your ground addition to Wyoming’s self-defense statutes layered on added safeguards for people who could, during a clash, reasonably believe they’re under dangerous attack.
It specifies that a person does not have a duty to retreat if he’s being attacked at a site that he occupies lawfully. It also commands immunity in some cases, saying a person who uses reasonable defensive force “shall not be criminally prosecuted” for doing so.
The Campbell County District Court judge as of Wednesday morning had not filed an order in response to Lamb’s motion, Monsalpe’s court file indicates.
All This Blood
Both men at September arraignments gave some variation of not-guilty pleasto the court, though neither case file divulges which variations they gave.
The investigation stems from the morning of Aug. 27, when Campbell County Sheriff’s Deputy Kyle Rhoades was driving down the road and saw two men fighting outside a home.
People scattered when Rhoades approached.
He saw Monsalpe standing outside, gushing blood from his chest and down his body with a laceration on his left shoulder, a 3-inch-deep puncture wound to that same shoulder deep enough to display the bone and a 13-inch-long slash from his shoulder to his belly, says the evidentiary affidavit in the case.
Authorities found Paez-Flores walking away from the scene, also injured with slashes to his forehead and crown.
Both men were hospitalized.
The argument reportedly started over a disagreement about whether to send money to a family member in Venezuela.
I Did Start It
Via a translator, Paez-Flores allegedly admitted that he started the fight by pushing Monsalpe, and that he had a broken beer bottle in his hand.
Monsalpe bashed Paez-Flores’ head with his own Corona beer bottle, so Paez-Flores swung at Monsalpe with his Corona bottle, the affidavit relates.
That story deviated slightly from Paez-Flores’ first account, in which he said he couldn’t explain how Monsalpe was injured, says the affidavit.
“Lewis (Paez-Flores) indicated he was reluctant to speak with law enforcement and tell the truth because he was concerned about being deported and not being able to work,” the investigator later wrote in the affidavit.
Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.