Worland temperatures: High 1, Low -12 precipitation: T
Saturday: Occasional flurries, mainly before 8 a.m., then a slight chance of snow. Patchy fog before 11 a.m. Otherwise, partly sunny and cold, with a high near 2. Wind chill values as low as -25. Calm wind becoming north 5 to 8 mph in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
Saturday Night: A 20 percent chance of snow before 11 p.m. Mostly cloudy, with a low around -11. Wind chill values as low as -25. North wind 6 to 8 mph.
Sunday: Mostly sunny and cold, with a high near 6. Wind chill values as low as -15. Light northwest wind.
Sunday Night: A 20 percent chance of snow before 11 p.m. Mostly cloudy, with a low around -12. North wind 5 to 8 mph.
Monday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 11. Southeast wind 5 to 8 mph.
Monday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around -4. Southeast wind 3 to 6 mph.
Tuesday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 20.
Tuesday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 0.
Wednesday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 29.
Wednesday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 8.
Thursday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 34.
Sunset tonight: 4:27 p.m.
Sunrise tomorrow: 7:32 a.m.
DAILY NEWS photo by Jeanette Johnson
Friday night’s frigid temperatures may have kept the crowds away, but those who attended the Pinnacle Bank Festival of Trees opened their wallets and made it a successful event. Auctioneer Verne Lofink cajoled his bidders by saying he would try to get them to spend more than they wanted to “and you will enjoy doing it. You don’t bid from your billfold, you bid from your heart.” Above, Red Rock Family Practice’s “A Safari Christmas” catches the eye of the bidders. At right, Liam Barcelon gazes in wonder at Grandpa Ed Keller, gaining some first-hand experience to be an auctioneer. In back, Kent Lamm keeps an eye out for bidders. Below, while people entered the Worland Community Center Complex gym, the 5th grade class from South Side Elementary sang “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” as their final carol, complete with arm movements. At the end of the night, the sponsors and volunteers from Pinnacle Bank tallied $26,665.
Teacher killing trial in doubt
By Matthew Brown
SIDNEY, Mont. (AP) — The killing of a much-loved high school teacher
nearly two years ago has weighed heavily in rural Montana. Hundreds of
people helped search for Sherry Arnold and calls for frontier-style
justice greeted the arrest of the man accused of killing her.
Today, the fate of 24-year-old Michael Keith Spell rests not with a jury but with experts evaluating whether he should be declared unfit for trial due to mental disability.
Initially, Arnold’s disappearance during a pre-dawn jog confirmed residents’ fears about crime rising with the oil shale boom sweeping the Northern Plains. The case since has evolved into a referendum on justice for a man said to have the mental capacities of a first grader.
Spell’s alleged accomplice, Lester Van Waters Jr., 49, has a much more extensive criminal record. He pleaded guilty in a deal that lets him avoid a potential death sentence if he testifies against Spell.
Attorneys for Spell, of Parachute, Colo., say his intellectual disabilities date back to his elementary school days. If he goes to trial, they say the death sentence sought by prosecutors should be barred by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that forbids executions of the mentally disabled.
It’s the first such argument in Montana since the high court’s 2002 ruling in Atkins vs. Virginia, and prosecutors are fighting it. They are sending their own team to the state mental hospital to evaluate Spell, accused of randomly abducting and killing Arnold on Jan. 7, 2012.
Waters testified at his change of plea hearing that he and Spell had consumed massive amounts of cocaine as they drove from Colorado looking for work in the oil fields. He said they were looking for a woman to have sex with when they spotted Arnold along the side of a road in the small community of Sidney, a city of 5,000 near the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers.
Spell grabbed Arnold along an irrigation ditch just blocks from her house, overpowered and killed her, according to court documents filed by prosecutors. The remains of the 43-year-old mother of two were recovered from a shallow grave on March 21, 2012, near Williston, N.D., about 50 miles away.
In Sidney, pain over the death of a woman most refer to as simply “Sherry” is shared community-wide. Her tenure in the local school system stretched across two generations, and former students and their parents said they admired Arnold for her competence and compassion in the classroom.
“Our town is too wounded to be objective,” said Tina Turner, a shop owner who searched for Arnold and pasted a missing person poster in the window of her Planet Hair & Spa.
“I’ve always believed every life is worth something, but when someone takes a life, it changes how you feel about things,” she said.
Judge Richard Simonton moved the case from Sidney to Glendive, Mont., about 50 miles away, after the defense pointed to comments in the Sidney Herald that extolled “Old West Justice” and called for the accused to “hang from the nearest tree.”
The trial, scheduled to begin Jan. 6, was canceled by Simonton on Wednesday after state officials said they needed until mid-January to evaluate Spell.
Northern Wyoming Daily News
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