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Suspects Arrested in Wyoming Arson, Vehicle Thefts

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By Ryan Lewallen, County 17

Two suspects have been arrested during a felony investigation into a series of stolen vehicles, at least one of which was set on fire, according to affidavits of probable cause filed in the case.

Gillette authorities have charged Austin Anderson, 26, and Cody Allard, 21, with felony third-degree arson after they allegedly lit at least one of five pickups stolen from several Wyoming communities on fire, court documents state.

As of Jan. 19, Anderson also faces two felony theft charges stemming from a Dec. 31 incident where he reportedly took a 2006 Chevrolet from a residence on East Laramie Street, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed on Jan. 15 in the Circuit Court of the Sixth Judicial District, as well as a 2011 Dodge pickup from the 3500 block of Foothills Boulevard.

The Chevrolet, valued at $5,000, was taken between 4:30 and 6:50 a.m. and was found later that morning near Barlow Road, fully engulfed in flames. The Dodge, valued at $23,000, was reported stolen five hours later and was found Jan. 1 near Hartville, Wyoming. It, too, had reportedly been set on fire and was badly burned.

Affidavits further state that Allard and Anderson had allegedly been “car hopping” early Dec. 31 when the pair reportedly entered, started, and took the Chevrolet. After driving around Gillette for a short time, Anderson reportedly perpetuated a plan to steal another vehicle to get rid of the Chevrolet because he could have been spotted near the stolen pickup and lives near the address from which it was taken.

Anderson allegedly identified the Dodge pickup as a work vehicle, reasoning that the keys would be left inside. Allard reportedly could not operate the Dodge’s manual transmission, prompting Anderson to hand the Chevrolet off to him and drive the Dodge instead, court documents state.

The pair left the area soon after and travelled onto Wild Horse Creek Road, where they were seen by a county employee performing maintenance on the road.

The employee reported that several tools and belongings were taken shortly thereafter from his work pickup that had been parked and unlocked on the side of the road, according to a Campbell County Sheriff’s Office incident report.

Both suspects told investigators that the other soaked the Chevrolet in lighter fluid and lit it on fire, though Anderson admitted to being the one concerned about biological evidence left behind in the Chevrolet, according to court documents.

After the Chevrolet was abandoned in flames, the pair allegedly fled to Wheatland in the Dodge where they stole an unidentified vehicle, court documents state, before driving on to Guernsey and stealing another Chevrolet pickup.

The pair reportedly split up in Newcastle, with Allard driving back to Gillette in the stolen Chevrolet. Allard was arrested by Moorcroft Police for driving the stolen pickup, and several items that had been reported stolen from the work truck on Wild Horse Creek Road were also recovered, per the affidavit.

Anderson reportedly burned the Dodge before stealing another unidentified vehicle from a residence in Newcastle on Jan. 1, where he became armed with a firearm, according to Weston County Sheriff Bryan Colvard.

Weston County deputies were tipped off to Anderson’s location at the county fairgrounds, where he allegedly lost control of the vehicle and crashed it into a fairground building, causing upwards of $10,000 in damage, Colvard said.

When Weston County deputies arrived, they observed Anderson fleeing the area on foot through a pasture and, following a short foot-pursuit, managed to take him into custody, Colvard said.

In addition to charges stemming in Campbell County, Anderson has been charged in Weston County for felony aggravated burglary, felony theft, and felony destruction of property.

He was also charged with misdemeanor eluding for fleeing from Weston County deputies, Colvard said.

If he is convicted, Anderson could face up to 10 years imprisonment, a $10,000 fine, or both, for each count of felony theft, felony burglary, and felony destruction of property.

Additionally, both men could face upon conviction up to five years imprisonment, a $5,000 fine, or both, for felony arson that damaged property worth more than $200.

Campbell County Undersheriff Quentin Reynolds advised Wednesday morning, Jan. 20, that the investigation into these incidents is currently ongoing across multiple Wyoming law enforcement agencies.

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No Charges To Be Filed Against Riverton Man Who Shot Wife

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A Riverton man who fatally shot his wife after she reportedly startled him will not be prosecuted according to Fremont County authorities.

In a press release, Fremont County Attorney Patrick Lebrun announced that charges will not be filed against Mike Pitt in the Nov. 23, 2020 death of his wife, Lisa.

The shooting, ruled accidental, occurred when Mrs. Pitt startled her husband. who was taking his Glock 9-mm pistol to a gun safe in their bedroom.

“As Mr. Pitt walked past the couple’s walk-in closet, the inside of which was blocked from view owing to clothing hanging from the top of the door, Mrs. Pitt jumped out of the closet in a playful effort to scare her husband. Startled, Mr. Pitt shot and killed her,” the release reads.

“The couple’s teenage son was present in the relatively small home when the incident occurred, and confirmed that nothing was out of the ordinary prior to hearing the gun shot and subsequent yells of his father seeking help. Mr. Pitt engaged in efforts to resuscitate his wife, but she had suffered a fatal wound,” the statement said.

The statement went on to say that charges could have been filed but “there is no sense to it under these specific facts.”

“This was a devastating accident – and to prosecute such an event would add nothing to the life sentence of regret already present,” it reads.

The County Attorney said the family of Mrs. Pitt supports the decision not to press charges.

“They believe prosecution would only cause more torment for their family as they continue to support Mr. Pitt and help him finish raising the couple’s son,” the statement reads.

A fundraising campaign to help pay funeral expenses has been set-up and can be accessed here. Pitt’s obituary is located here.

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Rock Springs: Idiot Gets Arrested Trying to Elude the Police in a Toyota Prius

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If there were a criminal’s handbook, you would think there would be a chapter on high-speed chases and the types of vehicles you should avoid when planning on eluding authorities.

If that chapter existed, probably at the top of that list would be a Toyota Prius.

Sadly for Orlando Wilson, who was arrested in Rock Springs on Tuesday, the chapter doesn’t exist.

In what has to be a worldwide rarity (perhaps a Guinness Book of World Records-level rarity), the words “Toyota Prius” and “high speed chase” made the same police report.

And likely to the surprise of absolutely no one, that high speed chase did not end well for the pursued.

According to one of the best police reports of all time, it turns out, the Prius driven by Mr. Wilson ran out of gas while in Rock Springs on Tuesday. 

He called a taxi to deliver him some fuel and after receiving the fuel, he allegedly took off — without paying.

“The Toyota Prius was located by officers traveling at a high rate of speed,” the reports reads. “An attempt was made to conduct a traffic stop but the driver refused to pull over. He continued to elude officers until he drove down a dead-end road at which time he stopped his vehicle and contact was made by officers.”

According to Rock Springs Police Department spokesperson Jennifer Maze, this is likely the first time in Rock Springs history that someone tried to elude the police in a Prius.

Unfortunately for Wilson, the embarrassment of allegedly trying to elude the police in a Prius was just the start of a really bad day.

The Prius he was driving? Stolen. 

That makes you wonder if Wilson was not a complete idiot because who would ever steal a Prius? It could have been a genius move because no one — in their right mind — would ever steal a Prius.

Regardless, Wilson was arrested for: Felony Theft, Fleeing or Attempting to Elude Police Officers, Possession of Marijuana-Less than 3 Ounces, Interference with a Police Officer, Driving Under Suspension, Failure to Maintain Insurance, and Speeding. 

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Gillette: Drunk Juvenile Flees in Pickup, Passenger Bails

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By Ryan Lewallen, County 17

A 17-year-old male was arrested Saturday night after reportedly fleeing in a pickup from officers while drunk, Gillette Police Lt. Brent Wasson said Monday.

Gillette police tracked down a black pickup driven by the 17-year-old male and his 19-year-old male passenger after staff at Common Cents reported the intoxicated individuals, Wasson said.

Officers reportedly observed a case of beer in the back seat and both individuals smelled of alcohol. When officers ordered them to step out of the vehicle, however, the 17-year-old male drove away, according to Wasson.

The 19-year-old male reportedly pled with the 17-year-old to stop before leaping out of the moving vehicle after his pleas went ignored, Wasson said.

The pickup was later located and stopped by Wyoming Highway Patrol troopers around an hour later. The 17-year-old male was arrested for driving under the influence, minor in possession, reckless driving, eluding, and no insurance, per Wasson.

Officers also cited the 19-year-old male for consuming alcohol under the age of 21.

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Sweetwater County Detective to Appear On “20/20” Friday For Dating Game Killer Episode

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

It’s a little short notice, but if you’re a true crime fanatic, you should tune into ABC’s “20/20” on Friday at 7 p.m. to see a Sweetwater County detective.

According to a social media post, Sweetwater County Detective Jeff Sheaman will appear to discuss the 1977 murder of Christine Thornton in Granger.

According to media reports, Thornton left Texas in 1977, heading to Montana with her boyfriend to pan for gold. Her remains were found near Granger in western Sweetwater County in 1982, however, they were not identified until 2015.

Sheaman and other detectives investigating the case ultimately connected Thornton’s murder to the killing of at least seven other women across the country by Rodney Alcala, also known as the “Dating Game Killer.”

Alcala is now charged with first-degree murder in Thornton’s death and has been convicted of seven other murders. However, officials maintain his body count could be much higher. He has been imprisoned since 1979.

He is known as the “Dating Game Killer” due to his appearance on the dating show of the same name in the midst of his crime spree. He actually won his segment.

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Gillette Man To Face 31 Felony Counts Of Aggravated Child Abuse

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By County 17

A Gillette man has been charged with 31 counts of felony aggravated child abuse for allegedly injuring a 3-month-old infant to the point that he was hospitalized with broken bones.

Tyler Martinson, 28, was arraigned on the alleged charges Tuesday, Jan. 5, before Sixth Judicial District Circuit Court Judge Paul Phillips.

The investigation regarding Martinson and the infant’s injuries date back to Jan. 2, after Campbell County Memorial Hospital emergency room staff contacted the Gillette Police Department (GPD) to report potential child abuse, according to the affidavit filed in the case.

The infant had been brought to the emergency room by Martinson and a woman, whose identity has been withheld to protect the identity of the infant, after they reportedly noticed the infant’s ribs were popping with every breath and were swollen.

Martinson advised ER staff that the baby was not using his right leg, which was splayed to the side and not moving. Hospital staff informed investigators that the baby was “screaming and inconsolable,” according to the affidavit.

Court documents further allege that Martinson told doctors “I might have been a little rough.”

Examinations revealed the baby had suffered 26 separate fractures to his ribs and five fractures to his legs, all of which were in various stages of healing, according to court documents.

ER staff informed investigators that, given the extent of the injuries, they could only be inflicted by force equivalent to that of a car crash, according to the affidavit.
Martinson allegedly also stated that he did not know how to pick up or handle an infant and had injured the infant several times over the past three months since the baby was born, the affidavit stated.

When asked to explain by investigators what had happened, Martinson allegedly told them “I got so angry, you know, I just have a lot going on and I just lost it, I guess,” according to the affidavit.

The female also allegedly informed investigators that she witnessed Martinson being “too rough” with the infant on several occasions that had resulted in bruising.

Due to the extent of his injuries, the infant was transferred to an out-of-state health care facility for treatment.

Deputy County and Prosecuting Attorney Daniel Reade advised that the state views Martinson as a flight risk, given the length of time Martinson could face in prison should he be convicted.

“He’s young and could run off to anywhere and start over fairly easily. He appears to have the backing of a lot of his family,” Reade stated.

He requested Phillips allow Martinson a $100,000 cash or commercial surety bond on the condition that Martinson have no contact with the victim or any key witnesses.

Martinson’s defense, Attorney Denise Urbin, argued that her client was not a flight risk. She said that bond for her client was appropriate considering his lack of a criminal record and his cooperation with law enforcement during the investigation.

“If he were a flight risk, he would have been gone a long time ago,” Urbin said, adding that Martinson is not a threat to the community and any potential threat he could pose to the infant would be alleviated by the no contact provision requested by the state.

Phillips said that, given the appearance that Martinson posed a significant threat to members of the community, including the victim and key witnesses, he would allow the bond requested by the prosecution.

Phillips added that Martinson, should he post bond, cannot contact the victim or witnesses in the case, must adhere to a strict curfew with work-related exceptions, and cannot leave Campbell County for any reason.

Martinson has also been ordered to wear a GPS monitoring device.

As of the time of publication, Martinson had not posted bond and was currently being detained at the Campbell County Detention Center.

Martinson faces 31 charges of felony aggravated child abuse. If convicted, Martinson could face a total of 775 years’ imprisonment, a $31,000 fine, or both.

His preliminary hearing will be held Jan. 12.

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Gillette: Teen Arrested For Strangulation, Assault Of Pregnant Woman

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By Ryan Lewallen, County 17

A 19-year-old man is charged with aggravated assault of a pregnant woman after allegedly choking and pressing a knife to his girlfriend’s neck yesterday morning, Gillette Police Lt. Brent Wasson said Wednesday.

The alleged incident occurred at an apartment in the 100 block of East Walnut Street on Dec. 29 and was reported to police around 10:45 a.m., Wasson said.

The man and his girlfriend, a pregnant 21-year-old female, had been playing around when she accidentally struck him in the face, causing him to become angry, according to the police report.

The man did not recall what had specifically occurred, informing officers that he had blacked out during the incident. When he came to, he had his hands around the woman’s throat. The woman also reported that, during the alleged incident, the man had held a knife to her neck and face, Wasson said.

Officers noted visible signs of injury on the woman’s neck and chest and her shirt was ripped, according to Wasson.

The 19-year-old man was arrested and charged with felony strangulation of a household member and felony aggravated assault on a pregnant woman, according to the police report.

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Alcohol Fuels Fights, Chaos, And Mayhem In Gillette

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By Ryan Lewallen, County 17

Alcohol-related incidents kept local police on their toes Monday night with officers intervening to stop an alleged drunk driver and two separate fights.

The incidents kicked off at 10:55 p.m., Dec. 28, after concerned citizens contacted the Gillette Police Department (GPD) to report an intoxicated 39-year-old man was about to drive his vehicle from the Old Chicago parking lot on Boxelder Road, according to GPD Lt. Brent Wasson.

The man was contacted in his running vehicle, but officers permitted him to walk to a nearby hotel after the man stated he was only starting his vehicle because it had oil pump issues, Wasson said Tuesday morning.

Approximately 30 minutes later, hotel staff contacted police to report the man had left the hotel and was about to drive his vehicle out of the parking lot. Officers responded, stopped him, and arrested him for driving under the influence of alcohol, per Wasson.

Around the same time, officers were also dispatched to the Fireside Bar on Highway 14-16 for the report of a bar fight in progress. Upon their arrival, several parties were actively fighting with one another.

Officers broke up the fight and a 38-year-old man was identified for his alleged involvement. He was instructed not to leave while officers attempted to deescalate the situation further. The 38-year-old man reportedly slipped out of the bar and hid in his vehicle in the parking lot, where he was subsequently found and arrested, Wasson said.

During the ensuing investigation, witnesses informed officers that the 38-year-old man had reportedly started a fight with another unidentified male, who fled the area before officers arrived.

Several female patrons reportedly attempted to break up the fight, during which the 38-year-old man allegedly struck a 34-year-old woman in the head causing pain and swelling. He was charged with interference and battery, Wasson said.

At 3:30 this morning, police were again dispatched to the report of another fight on Sierra Drive involving two intoxicated male roommates, one 36 and the other 25.

The 36-year-old man claimed the 25-year-old man threatened to shoot him while brandishing a firearm, prompting the 36-year-old to strike the 25-year-old in the face multiple times in self-defense, per Wasson.

However, further investigation revealed the claims about the firearm were unsubstantiated and the 36-year-old man pursued the 25-year-old around the house before the younger man escaped out the back door.

Officers reportedly observed the 36-year-old man continue to cause a disturbance while they were on scene, Wasson said.

The 25-year-old man had a bloody nose and mouth and swelling to his face. The 36-year-old man was arrested and charged with battery as well as intoxication, according to Wasson.

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Casper Man Threatens Police, ‘Suicide By Cop’ During Stand-Off

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Casper man has been arrested after a standoff with Casper police that came after he allegedly threatening to shoot police officers and said he would commit suicide by forcing police to shoot him.

Jackie Carbajal was arrested early Tuesday morning after the standoff that began Monday afternoon.

According to a post from the Casper Police Department, officers responded to a report of a family fight at an apartment complex in Casper on Monday afternoon. They learned Carabajal reportedly broke into his ex-wife’s apartment, physically assaulted her and took her cell phone before leaving.

The victim’s daughter, who was also in the apartment, called 911. Upon arrival at the scene, officers observed the door to the apartment to be completely destroyed, signs of a forced entry.

While on the scene, officers observed a phone call between the victim and Carabajal, who had already fled. Officers attempted to speak with the Carabajal during the call, but he proceeded to tell officers that if he saw any cops he would “shoot them immediately.”

He also told officers he had firearms and other weapons and would “shoot any cop who looked at him.” The suspect was also threatening to commit “suicide by cop,” a reference to a person acting in such a way as to force police to shoot him.

Upon further investigation, officers discovered that Carabajal had an outstanding felony warrant for his arrest for aggravated assault in which he was accused of physically assaulting his ex-wife.

A short time later, officers received a call from an anonymous person with Carabajal’s location.

Multiple officers responded to the residents where Carbajal was later found to set up a perimeter.

Not long after, officers conducted a traffic stop with a vehicle seen leaving the residence and the driver told officers that Carabajal was inside the home and might have access to firearms.

During this interaction, officers observed an additional phone call between this individual and Carabajal, in which the latter was again threatening to kill himself.

At this point, officers requested the assistance of the Natrona County Special Response Team, highly-trained crisis negotiators who talked with Carabajal for several hours.

Shortly after midnight on Tuesday, Carabajal surrendered. Following his arrest, officers recovered a firearm from inside the residence.

Carabajal was taken into custody and arrested on his felony warrant and has also been recommended for one felony charge of burglary, one misdemeanor charge of unlawful entry, and one felony charge of domestic battery.

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Christmas Eve Stabbing Leaves One Dead in Fremont County

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The Fremont County Sheriff’s Office on Monday announced they are investigating a homicide that occurred on Christmas Eve near Pavillion.

The sheriff’s office said that they received a 911 call at 8:46pm on December 24 from an individual who said a man had sustained a significant injury to the chest.  

When deputies arrived they found a 41-year old man with an apparent stab wound to the chest.  

“Deputies and ambulance crews attempted to render aid but the man did not survive,” the office said in a release.  

After a preliminary investigation, a 39-year old Pavillion area female, Bennilee Strock, was arrested in connection with the man’s death.  

Authorities have identified the deceased man as Jeffery Stock.

Bennilee Strock is currently being held at the Fremont County Detention Center on the charge of Murder in the Second Degree.

“There is no evidence to suggest that anyone other than the 39-year old female was involved in the man’s death and there is no danger to the community,” the office said.  “The investigation is active and additional details will be released at a later time.”

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