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Fremont County

Fremont County Man Sentenced For Stabbing Uncle In The Leg

in News/Crime
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Fremont County man was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison this week for stabbing his uncle in the leg last fall.

Shane Kyle Armajo, 34 of Kinnear, was sentenced to 42 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release for assaulting his uncle with a knife.

In October 2020, Armajo and his uncle had been drinking heavily and were driving home from visiting friends when an argument over money ensued. The uncle pulled to the side of the road and the two exited his truck.

They continued arguing until Armajo stabbed his uncle in the leg with a knife. Shortly after, he left the scene in his uncle’s truck.

A passerby spotted the unresponsive victim lying by the side of the road on the Wind River Indian Reservation and called 911. The uncle was life-flighted to the Wyoming Medical Center in Casper due to significant blood loss, but ultimately survived the assault.

“Even though both men had been drinking heavily and should not have been operating a motor vehicle, the fact that Armajo left his uncle for dead is extremely concerning. Because of his reckless behavior, he nearly killed a man and could have injured others while driving drunk,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Bob Murray. “Thanks to the passerby, the FBI and Wind River Police Department, the victim survived, and his attacker was held accountable.”

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Christmas Eve Stabbing Leaves One Dead in Fremont County

in News/Crime
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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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Wyoming Supreme Court Rejects Convicted Killer Gerald Lee Uden’s Appeal

in News/Wyoming Supreme Court/Crime
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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s Supreme Court has dismissed the latest appeal of a man who pleaded guilty to killing his ex-wife and two adopted sons in Fremont County.

The court, reviewing the case of convicted murderer Gerald Lee Uden, said it lacked jurisdiction over a lower court’s decision to dismiss Uden’s request to have his record cleared because of his discovery of new evidence.

Uden pleaded guilty in 2013 to three charges of first-degree murder filed in the 1980 murders of his ex-wife Virginia and adopted sons Reagan and Richard.

Uden told investigators he shot the three and then hid their bodies, first in old gold mines in Fremont County and then by putting them in barrels and then sinking the barrels in Fremont Lake.

At about the same time, Uden’s wife at the time of the murders, Alice Uden, was herself convicted of murdering her third husband in the 1970s. Their story was detailed in the book “Alice and Gerald: A Homicidal Love Story” by true crime author Ron Franscell, a former Wyoming newspaper publisher.

The Udens were incarcerated at the same institution — the Wyoming Medium Correctional Institution in Torrington — and Alice Uden died last year. 

After Alice Uden’s death, Gerald Uden began efforts to exonerate himself.

Uden filed a petition with a state district court seeking to have his conviction dismissed under the Wyoming “Factual Innocence Act.” Under the act, if a person convicted of a crime can offer new factual evidence that proves their innocence, the person can be exonerated.

However, the state district court found that Uden only offered transcripts of his trial and guilty plea, not new evidence that might prove his innocence. As a result, the district court dismissed Uden’s request.

Uden appealed the dismissal to the Supreme Court, but a unanimous court ruled since his request was only dismissed and not denied, it has no jurisdiction over the issue.

The Supreme Court said Uden is free to file another request with the district court. As a result, the dismissal is not a final order that can be appealed to the Supreme Court, Justice Lynne Boomgaarden wrote.

“If Mr. Uden could credibly document the existence of newly discovered evidence that establishes a bona fide issue of his factual innocence, he would be free to file a petition that satisfied all of the (Factual Innocence) Act’s requirements,” she wrote. “Anything short of that, however, would again be subject to dismissal following the court’s initial review.”

In a footnote, Boomgaarden wrote that given Uden’s detailed admissions in court, it might be difficult for him to prove his innocence.

“We agree with the district court that it is difficult to imagine how Mr. Uden could credibly assert a bona fide factual innocence claim given his detailed admissions as to how and why he murdered his ex-wife and sons,” the footnote said.

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Fremont County Public Health Officer: Patients Critically Ill & On Ventilators

in News/Coronavirus
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By Bill Sniffin

Publisher, Cowboy State Daily

At least five Fremont County coronavirus patients are critically ill and are using ventilators, the county’s public health officer announced Wednesday.

Dr. Brian Gee, in a video, said half of the 16 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state are in Fremont County.

“And more than half of them are critically ill and on ventilators,” Gee said.

The state Department of Health set the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Fremont County as of Wednesday morning at 25.

But the Fremont County Incident Management Team reported that over the last 14 days, more than 600 people have been directed by doctors to self-isolate because they are showing signs of the illness.

Gee stressed that those self-isolating are not all elderly.

“The hundreds of patients were and are people young and old who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 infection,” he said. “The young are not immune. Our county currently has three patients under 60 who are seriously or critically ill.”

A diagnosis of coronavirus in a man at a Lander retirement home was among the first in the state.

Fremont County is located in the center of the state and has a population of 40,000 people. Its also the location of the Wind River Indian Reservation.  Riverton, Lander, Dubois, Hudson, Shoshoni, and Pavillion are some of the towns in the county. 

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Fremont County: 400+ People Told To Self-Quarantine & 27 Tests Waiting For Results

in News/Coronavirus
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By Bill Sniffin, Cowboy State Daily publisher

LANDER – More than 400 Fremont County residents have been directed to isolate themselves in their homes because of the coronavirus, according to county officials.

Dr. Brian Gee, the county’s health officer, released the number during a news conference Friday and said another 23 people are under quarantine to prevent the spread of the illness.

According to a news release from the Fremont County Incident Management Team, the number of people in self-isolation was determined through polling of public health nurses, clinics and health care providers.

Gee also said 27 Fremont County residents have been tested for coronavirus and the county is waiting for the results of those tests.

There have been 17 positive cases in Fremont County as of Friday afternoon and two victims have recovered

“We are now considering potential discharges of some of the patients with this disease,” Dr. Gee said. “While this is wonderful news, it points to the fact that the average discharge from beginning to the end of hospitalization in the US for people who get COVID is around 11 days.”  

“This, in itself, is different from most disease processes,” he said. “Because of this, Fremont County Public Health is working with all providers in the county to see how best to manage these patients as they begin a transition out of the hospital.”

“We are currently collecting names of many healthcare providers who would be interested in helping, if needed, with this process.  The response has been phenomenal so far,” he said. 

Most of Fremont County’s cases are connected with the Showboat Retirement Center in Lander, Gee said.

“Based on the numbers we are seeing over the last week, the number of cases in Fremont County is growing at a rapid rate,” the doctor said. “The Fremont County Health Department is stressing the importance to heed the Governor’s request and continue the self-isolation and distancing.”

“We would all like this bad news to be better but until our measures are fully implemented through Fremont County, we encourage everyone to stay the course,” he said.

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Lander, Riverton Basketball Teams Recognize Murdered and Missing Girls

in Uncategorized
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By Bill Sniffin, Cowboy State Daily

The standing room only crowd at the Lander Fieldhouse Tuesday, Jan. 28, saw some powerful symbolism of the effort to deal with murdered and missing Indian girls in Indian Country.

The basketball rivalry between the two teams is legendary but on this night, players united in wearing the same red tee shirts and posed together for a photo, prior to the big game.

Lynnette Grey Bull, a leader of a movement called MMIW (Murdered and Missing Indian Women) spoke. A song was presented by Mirks and Cedar Manzanares, which was solemn and soulful.

Just the previous week, a 23-year reservation woman Jade Wagon was found dead in a field. She had been missing since Jan. 2. The investigation is ongoing. Her older sister died earlier in Riverton last year.

Grey Bull declared “No one should disappear without a trace. No one should be murdered. No family should have to go through this.”

It was an emotional moment for a huge crowd of Fremont County basketball fans. It should be noted that many of the stars of the two basketball squads were members of the Shoshone and Arapaho tribes.

The game? Lander jumped out to a 19-2 lead only to see Riverton come back and tie it 43-43 in the fourth quarter before Lander eked out the victory.

Posted by Lynnette Grey Bull on Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Wyoming’s highest cost schools score lowest on ACT

in News/Education
Wyoming ACT test scores
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By Becky Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Poverty, a widely diverse student population and cultural differences all contribute to the low college preparedness exam scores posted by Fremont County schools, according to educators.

But at the same time, the national ACT exam is just one of a number of indicators of student performance, said the superintendents of Riverton and Arapahoe school districts.

“We don’t spend a lot of time emphasizing the ACT tests,” said Roy Brown, the interim superintendent of Arapahoe schools. “We think it is a predictor of learning, but we really want to make sure our students are receiving, advancing and achieving based on where we received them. We’re really interested in growth.”

State figures show that Fremont County’s eight school districts had the lowest composite ACT scores statewide in 2018 and the highest average per-student public education operating costs. The information came from a statistical report compiled by state economist Wenlin Liu.

Fremont County’s composite ACT score was 17.9, compared with Wyoming’s score of 19.5, and Teton County’s 21.7 score. The highest score possible is 36. ACT is a college admission exam that tests knowledge about English, math, reading and science.

The statistical report also pointed out that in Fremont County, the cost of public education for 2018 averaged about $22,300 per student, while the state average was about $17,700 per student.

Terry Snyder, the superintendent for Riverton schools, said the high per-student costs could be explained by the fact Fremont County is the state’s largest (geographically) and contains eight school districts — six of them in communities with low populations.

Snyder and Brown agreed that their districts will continue to work with students and teachers to improve achievement. But both regard the ACT exam as just one indicator of student performance and will not base improvement goals on it alone.

“It (the ACT) is a college prep test and it relies on a broad case of knowledge and information,” Snyder said. “We don’t use that as an excuse, but it is a reality with a test like ACT.” He puts more weight with the National Assessment for Educational Progress and the state’s WY-TOPP student performance test.

The poverty level of a district can affect ACT results, according to Snyder. Research done by the ACT system concluded that students from wealthier parents scored higher than poor students.

The poverty level in Fremont County in 2017 was 13.7 percent, higher than the state average of 11.3 percent and the national average of 12.3 percent, according to the American Community Survey. Snyder said he’s not surprised by the correlation between poverty level and test scores.

“But once we get the scores, we go to work to improve that,” he said. “Whether the students come from wealth or poverty, we have to work with every kid to maximize their learning.”

ACT research also shows that hispanic, black and Native American students score lower on average than white and Asian students who take the ACT. Fremont County has a significant minority population, Snyder said. The county is home to the Wind River Indian Reservation, where members of the Northern Arapaho and the Eastern Shoshone nations live.

Arapaho High Charter School has a high percentage of non-white students, Brown said.

The charter high school has 23 students in grades 9 through 12 this year. The district gets instructional help from the Wyoming Department of Education, Brown said.

“We are planning to work with them (the department) more intensively” in the next training session.

Michelle Panos, communications director for the state education agency, said the department offers several supports for schools that don’t meet expectations in various areas, whether it’s in Fremont County or any school district in Wyoming.

Resources include providing teacher training workshops and lessons in how to work with materials that are culturally and contextually sensitive, she said in an emailed response to questions.

Panos said an ACT score is not the only indicator school districts use to measure student success. WY-TOPP scores and NAEP scores are examples of others, she said.

“These are only snapshots of student performance,” she said. “Along with these, district level assessments use multiple measures that look at student performance over multiple periods in time.”

Making the curriculum relevant to Native American students is an important goal, according to Brown. Staff members at Arapaho High Charter School teach the Northern Arapaho language and two other districts in the county teach the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone languages.  

“We really believe it helps students become better rounded and primed for opportunities to learn,” Brown said.

“It may not directly affect ACT scores now, but once students are in an environment where they feel safe,” the academic instruction will be better received, he said.

Teaching the language has helped get students more engaged with school.  

“We have students who haven’t always enjoyed coming, but once they are in these activities, they feel validated and many hate to miss school now,” Brown said.

Alfred Redman is a Northern Arapaho Tribal Education director and also is affiliated with Sky People Higher Education, an organization that helps provide scholarships to Native American students who want to attend college.

Redman, 82, taught social studies for 23 years at the Wyoming Indian High in Ethete. He wants to make education relevant to students and continues to stay involved. Redman wants to change the curriculum to better fit the needs of Native American students.He wants to get parents and educators in Fremont County schools to meet so they can identify areas to improve.

“I’m having a hell of a time getting people to come together,” he said. “I’m trying to find out from the people what they think.”

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