A Venezuelan immigrant to Gillette pleaded guilty Thursday to wielding a broken beer bottle with the intent to hurt during a fight with a relative.
“Culpable,” Lewis Paez-Flores, 37, responded in Spanish when Campbell County District Court Judge Stuart Healy III asked him how he would plead to a charge of possessing a deadly weapon with unlawful intent.
Paez-Flores listened to his Thursday change-of-plea hearing through a translator. His public defender, Ty Jensen, coaxed out the confession of guilt necessary to support a guilty plea by asking Paez-Flores a series of questions.
Jensen asked Paez-Flores whether he was in Gillette on Aug. 27, and whether he got in an argument “with a person named Wil.”
“Sí,” Paez-Flores said after each question.
The other person was Wilquerman Monsalpe, 30, another immigrant to Gillette who’s related to Paez-Flores. They’d reportedly been arguing about whether to send money to another family member in Venezuela to get that person to the United States.
They took the fight outside, grabbing broken Corona bottles.
Paez-Flores slashed at Monsalpe’s chest, shoulder and torso, the evidentiary affidavit indicates.
Monsalpe, who is also being prosecuted, is accused of bloodying Paez-Flores’ head, requiring staples.
“And while holding that beer bottle, did you think – intend – ‘I can hurt Wil with this broken beer bottle’?” Jensen asked his client.
“Sí,” Paez-Flores repeated.
“You intended to harm Wil?”
“Sí,” he said.
Plea Agreement Says
The Campbell County Attorney’s office originally charged both Paez-Flores and Monsalpe with aggravated assault, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
But under a plea agreement, Paez-Flores agreed to plead guilty instead to possessing a deadly weapon with unlawful intent.
He faces one year of incarceration, followed by three years’ probation. If he violates his probation, he could spend between three and four more years behind bars.
However, Paez-Flores will be able to argue for less than one year of initial incarceration at his sentencing hearing, which will be set for a later date.
Possessing a deadly weapon with unlawful intent is punishable by up to five years in prison under Wyoming law.
Being convicted of a felony carries other consequences, such as not being able to own a gun or hold a public office. Or possible deportation.
“Importantly, if you are not a U.S. citizen, certain felony convictions may also be a basis for deportation proceedings against you by the federal government,” Healy warned.
Jensen said he has “gone over that extensively” with his client and prepared a separate waiver on that matter for Paez-Flores to review.
The press contact for the U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement Office did not respond to a Cowboy State Daily email requesting clarification on Paez-Flores and Monsalpe’s immigration status by publication time.
Jensen did not return a Cowboy State Daily phone message Friday.
Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.