By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
A court made an error when it allowed certain testimony to be offered in the case of a man accused of hitting his wife with his car and threatening her with a gun, Wyoming’s Supreme Court has ruled.
However, the mistake in the trial of Lloyd James Thompson was not enough to merit a reversal of his conviction on assault charges, the court said.
A jury in Casper convicted Thompson on two charges of aggravated assault and battery stemming from his arrest in a June 2019 dispute involving his wife.
According to the ruling, Thompson accused his wife of having an affair and she left their home, planning to walk to her sister’s house.
As she walked down the road, Thompson drove up quickly behind her in the couple’s vehicle, striking her left arm with its side mirror.
When his wife refused to get into the vehicle, Thompson said “he’d put a couple rounds in (her)” and then pointed a gun at her. His wife testified she began walking away when Thompson pulled the gun and then she heard it go off.
A neighbor and her daughter testified they saw a man in a vehicle follow a woman and later fire a handgun at a fence.
Thompson was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and battery, accused of using threatening to use a deadly weapon — the car and the handgun — on another person. He was convicted by a jury and sentenced to five years of supervised probation.
In his appeal, Thompson said officers from the Mills Police Department and Natrona County Sheriff’s Office were improperly allowed to repeat during the trial what Thompson’s wife had told them when she spoke about the incident.
Thompson argued law enforcement officers should only have been allowed to testify about what they did during their investigation of the incident — not what other people told them.
The court, in an opinion written by Justice Keith Kautz, agreed with Thompson.
However, justices said the error was not significant enough to overturn Thompson’s conviction because other evidence, including the testimony of Thompson’s wife, the statements of witnesses to the incident and Thompson’s own comments, was sufficient to justify his conviction.
“There is no reasonable probability the verdict would have been more favorable to Mr. Thompson had the improper … evidence not been admitted,” the opinion said.