Casper Teen Pleads Not Guilty In Murder Of Ex-Girlfriend

A 16-year-old Casper boy on Monday pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the shooting death of his 17-year-old ex-girlfriend, Lenae Brown. Eavan Castaner is being charged as an adult.

DK
Dale Killingbeck

June 17, 20247 min read

Lenea Brown, 17, of Casper was shot in the head and killed near Buckboard Park on May 14. Her ex-boyfriend, Eavan Castaner, has been charged as an adult with first-degree murder.
Lenea Brown, 17, of Casper was shot in the head and killed near Buckboard Park on May 14. Her ex-boyfriend, Eavan Castaner, has been charged as an adult with first-degree murder. (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

CASPER — The 16-year-old boy charged as an adult with first-degree murder in the shooting death of his 17-year-old ex-girlfriend near a local park last month pleaded not guilty Monday.

Eavan Castaner also faces a charge of stalking for his alleged actions leading up to meeting the girl, Lenae Brown, and some others near Buckboard Park just after midnight May 14.

There, Castaner allegedly shot Brown in the head with a 9 mm pistol taken from his mother’s home, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed in the case.

In a social media message to Brown leading up to the shooting, he allegedly told her that he would “celebrate when you die,” the affidavit says.

In court Monday, Castaner appeared with his attorney Ryan Semerad. He was dressed in a red jumpsuit in chains and handcuffs.

His brown hair was tied in a little bun at the top of his head as he listened to Judge Daniel L. Forgey’s instructions about his rights and replied “yes sir” to questions about whether he understood his legal options.

Forgey read the first-degree murder and misdemeanor stalking charge to Castaner that were filed by the Natrona Count District Attorney’s office.

“Do you plead not guilty to those today?” Judge Forgey asked.

“Yes, sir,” Castaner responded.

Juvenile Court Motion

Following the plea, there was discussion about bond reduction, and then Semerad told the court he intends to file a motion to move Castaner’s case to juvenile court.

Under Wyoming law, that motion would trigger a hearing. Semerad told the judge he estimates he would need one to two days for the hearing and that he intended to file the motion in the next 30 days.

The judge recessed the court to allow Semerad to go into a side room to talk with Castaner about his intentions. Semerad then took Castaner’s parents out of the courtroom to speak with them.

Semerad came out of those discussions and told the judge that Castaner was willing to waive his right to a speedy trial that under law must happen within 180 days of his arraignment.

The judge questioned Castaner about the change, and he told the judge he understood the process and agreed to waive that right.

Forgey set a deadline for Aug. 1 for the motion to move the case to juvenile court and Sept. 1 for a response by the Natrona County District Attorney’s office.

Under Wyoming law, consideration for whether to move a case from district court to juvenile court could include factors such as:

  • The seriousness of the alleged offense to the community and whether protection of the community required a waiver from juvenile court.
  • Whether the alleged offense was committed in an aggressive, violent, premeditated or willful manner.
  • The sophistication and maturity of the juvenile as determined by consideration of his home, environmental situation, emotional attitude and pattern of living.
  • The prospects for adequate protection of the public and the likelihood of reasonable rehabilitation of the juvenile.

Castaner was 15 at the time of the shooting. Any juvenile court proceeding would be closed to the public and media.

Shooting victim Lenea Brown turned 17 on May 4. She was shot and killed May 14. The day of her death, her dad received the copy of her birth certificate he had been seeking so he could help her get her driver’s license.
Shooting victim Lenea Brown turned 17 on May 4. She was shot and killed May 14. The day of her death, her dad received the copy of her birth certificate he had been seeking so he could help her get her driver’s license. (Courtesy David Henrikson)

Bond Discussion

Semerad also asked the judge for a reduction in the $1 million cash bond for the teen.

He told the court that the law states that “all persons shall be bailable,” and that the current amount was out of the realm of possibility, excessive and that alcohol may have been a factor in the alleged crimes. He told the court that Castaner’s parents would work with any restrictions imposed by the court.

“We think $250,000 cash or surety reflects the human being in front of you,” he said.

District Attorney Dan Itzen said the facts of the case have not changed and argued for keeping the bond as is.

In the end, Judge Forgey said that, “based on my assessment of information available to the court,” he would modify it to “$1 million cash or surety.”

‘Crap Talk’

At his initial interview following the shooting, Castaner told police he had been in a relationship with Brown that ended April 18 and he was beginning a new relationship. He said that he and Brown still continued to text back and forth with “crap talk” toward one another, the affidavit states.

The affidavit goes on to say that the pair had sent Snapchat messages back and forth two hours before the shooting. Castaner allegedly wrote: “Ur a bitch I hope u die slowly Im go an celebrate when you die.” Brown responded: “Get tf of my phone bro she’s better? Then quit f***ing texting me bro.”

According to the police affidavit in the case, the messages led to Brown’s cousin communicating with Castaner to leave Brown alone, then escalated to where Castaner wanted to fight, and Brown’s cousin agreed to meet him at the park.

‘About To Kill Someone’

A friend of Castaner’s received messages from Castaner around midnight stating, “I’m actually about to kill someone (R). Like seriously, I am,” according to the affidavit. He tried to stop him by going to the park, trying to talk him out of it and then wrestled him to the ground.

The friend “told Eavan that was not going to let this happen, to which Eavan replied, ‘I am for sure I am killing dude,” the police affidavit states.

When interviewed by police, Castaner allegedly told them that at the park as Brown and her cousin approached, he saw Brown and an unidentifed male carrying a baseball bat. He said he drew the pistol as the male and Brown approached each other and she appeared to be about to punch him when he shot one round at her from about 3 to 4 feet away, the affidavit states.

He said he then ran, heard two shots and hid next to a house. The shots were allegedly fired by one of the males who had brought Brown and her cousin to the park, but had stayed behind a tree as the confrontation took place.

Castaner told police he called his female friend and then returned to her house, the affidavit states. At the house, he allegedly unloaded the pistol and put it in his backpack. When police arrived, he put it in a dresser drawer.

The affidavit states that Castaner then walked outside the house to surrender to police.

Alcohol Alleged

During his interview, the affidavit states that Castaner said he had also been to his father’s house earlier in the evening where he “took a single large drink” of vodka and topped it off with water.

The police investigation showed that Brown had messaged Castaner’s mother about 11:12 p.m. Monday with a screenshot of Castaner’s messages stating, “That’s Eavan” and that “he keeps calling me.”

The investigation also allegedly uncovered several phone calls on Brown’s cellphone with messages that appeared to come from Castaner. Eight were May 13 prior to her death and matched a number associated with Castaner. The investigation found five different phone numbers from April 15 to May 13 on Brown’s phone and “the conversations appeared generally similar in content,” the affidavit states.

The first-degree murder charge carries the potential for a life prison term and the stalking charge is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of not more than $750.

Dale Killingbeck can be reached at dale@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Dale Killingbeck

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Killingbeck is glad to be back in journalism after working for 18 years in corporate communications with a health system in northern Michigan. He spent the previous 16 years working for newspapers in western Michigan in various roles.