Wyoming Man Says He Tried To Gun Down Relatives Because He Was ‘Pretty Mad’

Melvin Bagley of Rawlins pleaded guilty Friday to two counts of attempted murder for gunning down his nephew and nephew’s wife last September near Bairoil because he was “pretty mad.”

Clair McFarland

May 03, 20243 min read

Melvin Bagley is led from the Carbon County Courthouse on May 3, 2024, after pleading guilty to attempteed second-degree murder.
Melvin Bagley is led from the Carbon County Courthouse on May 3, 2024, after pleading guilty to attempteed second-degree murder. (Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily)

RAWLINS — A 74-year-old Rawlins, Wyoming, man confessed Friday to shooting his nephew and his nephew’s wife in an attempt to kill them both last year because he was “pretty mad.”

Melvin Bagley sat hunched in a grey and white jail-issue jumpsuit, turned away from the third-floor windows of the Carbon County District Court room at his change of plea hearing.

Barely visible outside, the tops of the spruce trees leaned away from the wind.

Bagley’s nephew Marvin “JR” Bagley and Marvin’s wife Stephanie sat in the second bench on the prosecutor’s side of the courtroom. They’re generally healed up from the bullets that tore through Marvin’s face and hand, and through Stephanie’s shoulder, on Sept. 3, 2023, the couple said.

On that date, Melvin Bagley pulled his truck up next to theirs on the couple’s ranch near Bairoil and opened fire. Melvin Bagley had been struggling with dementia for a long while, and Marvin and Stephanie had struggled to rein in his paranoid outbursts, Stephanie told Cowboy State Daily earlier in this case.

During the melee, Marvin found a .22 revolver he keeps in his truck and fired back. Then he sped off in his own truck and made a snap decision to break through his gate to escape. Later, he flagged down a Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper by waving his bloody hand out the window.

What The Plea Agreement Says

“I’m here to plead,” said Melvin Bagley on Friday when Carbon County District Court Judge Dawnessa Snyder asked him if he understood why he was there.

He wore headphones so he could hear the judge. Squinting, he spoke softly with a Southern accent and answered most of the judge’s questions with a nod and a truncated “yeh.”

Melvin Bagley’s plea agreement says he will have his other charges — aggravated assault and reckless driving — dropped in exchange for pleading guilty to two counts of attempted second-degree murder. His defense attorney Sergio Lemus and prosecutor Carbon County Attorney Sarah Chavez Harkins have agreed upon a sentence of 20-40 years in prison, Snyder said.

The judge doesn’t have to accept the plea agreement, she warned, adding that judges nevertheless regard those recommendations with respect.

Melvin Bagley may also have to pay restitution.

  • Marvin, left, and Stephanie Bagley
    Marvin, left, and Stephanie Bagley (Courtesy Photos)

The Confession

“Tell me what happened,” said Snyder.

“Well, I shot my nephew and his wife,” said Melvin Bagley, leaning forward toward the microphone on the defense table.

Snyder asked if he intended to kill them.

“At the time I was pretty mad,” Melvin Bagley said.

Harkins elaborated, saying Melvin Bagley suspected his family members of stealing money from him, a fact that was never proven, and he went to them and shot them both. Later, he told investigators he was trying to kill them, said the prosecutor.

Both Lemus and Snyder were satisfied that this evidence would support Bagley’s pleas, and Snyder accepted both guilty pleas and entered convictions against him.

Melvin Bagley will be sentenced in about 90 days, after a probation agent conducts a report on his history and character, and at that time Snyder will decide if she’s going to accept Bagley’s plea agreement, the judge said.

Clair McFarland can be reached at clair@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter