A Wyoming judge has paused the prosecution against a Rawlins man accused of trying to gun down his caretakers so an examiner can determine whether the man is mentally competent to contribute to his defense.
The caretakers, Marvin and Stephanie Bagley, who are in their early 60s, are healing but fighting trauma and financial devastation in the wake of their shooting injuries, they told Cowboy State Daily on Monday.
They had been caring for Marvin’s Uncle, 73-year-old Melvin Bagley, for several months when Melvin allegedly drove his truck up to theirs near Bairoil, Wyoming, and started shooting at them and their truck Sept. 3.
Melvin Bagley shot his nephew Marvin twice in the right eyebrow — both bullets exited near Marvin’s ear — and shot him once through the hand, according to court documents.
The case affidavit says one bullet struck Stephanie Bagley in her shoulder; another hit her chest.
Delusions Of Money Lost
Melvin Bagley’s court-appointed defense attorney Patricia Bennett asked Carbon County District Court Judge Dawnessa Snyder last week to pause Bagley’s case so a state mental examiner can determine if Bagley is mentally competent to face trial.
“The public defender’s office has determined Defendant appears to be suffering from a mental disorder or deficiency, making him unfit to proceed and unable to assist in his defense,” says Bennet’s motion.
The affidavit indicates that Bagley has dementia, Bennett noted.
“In meeting with Mr. Bagley, he indicated some very specific beliefs about his finances, and after discussing this issue with law enforcement, these beliefs were not supported by the documentary evidence,” wrote Bennett.
Just before he allegedly hunted them down, shot at them and rammed his truck into theirs, Melvin Bagley had accused his nephew and nephew’s wife of taking money from him, the affidavit says.
Both Marvin and Stephanie called the claim outrageous, since they’ve spent thousands of dollars in moving him to Wyoming and taking care of him over the previous several months, they told Cowboy State Daily.
“He took all the money out – it’s already been proven,” said Stephanie Bagley, referencing earlier police visits and probes into Melvin Bagley's finances.
Bennett also voiced doubts about Melvin's claims.
“Counsel is concerned Mr. Bagley may be experiencing some delusions that may interfere with his ability to assist in his own defense and make decisions in a competent manner,” wrote the defense attorney.
Snyder granted Bennett’s request the same day she made it, Oct. 16.
An examiner now has 30 days to inform the court if Melvin Bagley is fit to be prosecuted, though the judge may extend that deadline.
For Stephanie Bagley, the memory is now one big nightmare.
For her husband Marvin, the healing process is a steep climb with a possible bankruptcy at the top, he said.
Marvin retold the attack in his Monday interview with Cowboy State Daily.
Marvin and Stephanie were driving away from their land near Bairoil on Sept. 3, where they’d gone to clean up their horse pens.
Marvin’s uncle Melvin pulled up to their Ford truck with his driver’s side door facing theirs. They were hauling a tractor away on a trailer.
“And we were having a normal conversation – no anger, nothing out of the way said just like you and me are talking now,” said Marvin.
Melvin said, “You gonna quit taking money out of the bank?” Marvin recalled.
“I said, ‘Melvin I ain’t taking any money out,’” he said. “’We’ve not touched anything of yours.’”
Just then, Marvin felt the bullets hit his head and another rip through his hand, he said.
One bullet hit Stephanie in the chest and another in the shoulder, court documents say. But Stephanie was still registering the shock of watching Melvin raise up the gun, and bullets tearing through her husband’s head.
She didn’t realize she’d been shot until later when she looked down and saw her own blood, she told Cowboy State Daily.
‘So He Could Finish Us Off’
Marvin was able to throw the truck in gear, he said.
“I got it shook off to where I could see. I put my truck in gear and we started toward the highway,” said Marvin.
But the attack didn’t end there, he added: “For 3 miles, he was ramming us, bashing us and trying to crash us – and still shooting through the truck so he could finish us off.”
Marvin found a .22 revolver he keeps in his truck and fired back at Melvin, court documents say.
Then Marvin drove up to the gate, which was shut. He hoped his truck could mow it down.
“If this post don’t break, he’s got us,” called Marvin to his wife. When Marvin rammed the gate with his 2014 Ford pickup, the post broke and they burst out onto the highway.
At some point both the truck’s transmission and computer were hit with bullets, Marvin said.
And yet, the couple reportedly raced about 18 miles from that highway entrance to the Wyoming Game and Fish checkpoint near Rawlins.
“How we got from mile marker 22 to … the Fish and Game checkpoint in that truck is God alone,” said Stephanie Bagley.
Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper Timothy Howell caught on to the chase when Marvin drove past and waved his bloody hand out the window at him, Marvin recalled.
Howell also noticed the truck had heavy damage on the driver’s side, the affidavit says.
The state trooper chased Melvin, but Marvin kept driving until he was sure they were free of their attacker.
“I wasn’t stopping. Because I (knew) she was bleeding bad, and I was bleeding bad,” he said. “It was a nightmare. She relives the nightmare every time we have to go out and take care of the cows.”
In her flashbacks, Stephanie sees Melvin’s face, the gun emerging and the shots hitting her husband’s head, she said.
She’s being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety, Stephanie added.
Both Marvin and Stephanie said they dread the thought of Melvin being able to get out of state detention through one of Wyoming's legal provisions for the mentally incompetent.
Though paused, Melvin's case is not closed.
‘Hope He’s Quite Proud Of Himself’
Marvin Bagley took two helicopter rides after the alleged attack: one to Casper and another to Loveland.
Stephanie said the first ride from Rawlins to Casper alone cost $56,000, and she hasn’t seen the bill for the Loveland ride yet.
Marvin had a plan that week to fly out to Kansas City, Missouri, and pick up a semi truck so he could haul freight and add to his income, he said.
“We were going to be living comfortable until this happened,” said Marvin, adding that he now dreads the thought of a possible bankruptcy when the rest of the medical bills come in. Their truck is totaled and they struggle physically with their daily workload, Stephanie added.
“I hope he’s quite proud of himself,” Stephanie said, of her husband’s uncle Melvin.
But Stephanie reiterated several times that, though they have a steep recovery ahead both physically and financially, she is grateful to God for rescuing them from what they thought were their last moments alive.
“We totally had God watching our backs that day,” she said. “There’s no other explanation for us getting out of there alive.”
Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.