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MAY 24 Wyoming News Briefs

Torrington council tables chicken ordinance; Pinedale man survives 500-foot drop in car;

Legal Aid of Wyoming wants to help vets regardless of income

CHEYENNE (WNE) — Legal Aid of Wyoming is testing a pilot program in Laramie County to provide military veterans access to free legal assistance, no matter their income level.

Currently, Legal Aid of Wyoming restricts its services to Wyomingites whose income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. But the new program being tested in the county would provide in-person legal assistance for any veteran without any income qualifier, said Raymond Macchia, executive director of Legal Aid.

The program is a collaboration between several organizations, including Legal Aid of Wyoming, Equal Justice Wyoming and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“We want the veterans to know that their service is valued, and we do appreciate everything they’ve done for us and our country,” Macchia said. “This is a military town, and we think it’s important for us to reach out to those people who have served our country and to say thank you. And if there’s something you need, to let us know.”

Veterans across the state, regardless of income, can access legal aid over a hotline run by the Wyoming State Bar Association. But for those veterans who need in-person assistance, Legal Aid of Wyoming in Laramie County will not be checking income levels before proving services.

Macchia said those services could range from helping create and update a will to filing for a divorce. But it could also be something like helping a veteran file an appeal of their discharge status, which could lead to a significant increase in benefits available for them in their civilian life.


Drug cases dismissed because of late search

GILLETTE (WNE) — The drug cases against two Gillette residents have been dismissed after a judge ruled that since a search of their home was done during the wrong hours, the evidence of criminal activity cannot be used against them.

Tohniejo Brimmer, 31, and John N. Miller, 42, were charged with two counts of drug endangered child, a count of possession of meth and a count of possession with intent to deliver meth, all felonies.

They were arrested Nov. 26 in their camper at 107 Harry St. when meth was found on a man leaving their home after he was stopped for a traffic violation. That prompted Campbell County Sheriff’s Deputy Eric Coxbill to apply for a search warrant for the camper, which was granted at 10:36 p.m. Nov. 26.

He executed the search warrant at about 11 p.m. at the home and found more than six used meth pipes, packaging material, a digital scale and bags with meth weighing 3.21 grams and 4.13 grams, according to court documents.

But attorneys for Brimmer and Miller protested that the material was seized improperly and asked that District Judge Thomas W. Rumpke suppress the evidence.

Since the search warrant expressly authorized the search from between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. and it was conducted outside of that time period, Rumpke ruled that the evidence found in the search could not be used in court.

Without that evidence, prosecutors said they likely couldn’t get a conviction on the charges and asked that the charges against Brimmer and Miller be dismissed.


Lyman man sentenced to probation in standoff

EVANSTON (WNE) — Lyman man Jonathon P. Burkett will serve two years of supervised probation following an armed standoff with law enforcement that occurred in January.

The sentence is the result of a plea agreement with the Uinta County Attorney’s Office, through which Burkett agreed to plead no contest to two counts and guilty to a third while two additional counts were dismissed.

Burkett, 29, was arrested on Jan. 21 following a string of events that ended in the standoff. Burkett was reportedly armed with a handgun when he entered John’s Bar in Lyman in the morning hours while the business was closed. He was caught and confronted by the bar owner.

Burkett left the bar and the owner called law enforcement, who later located Burkett at his parents’ home in Lyman.

During his change of plea hearing in Third District Court on Friday, May 17, Burkett’s public defender Dean Stout said his client’s memory of that morning is hazy, but court documents indicate he was still armed and refused to disarm when law enforcement officers made contact with him.

Burkett was finally arrested after reaching for the gun and being taken to the ground by responding officers. Initial charges included aggravated burglary, wrongful taking or disposing of property, reckless endangering, interfering with a peace officer and use of methamphetamine after Burkett admitted to smoking the drug earlier in the day, which was confirmed by urinalysis.

Burkett was sentenced to two years of probation for the burglary charge on count one and one year of probation for the charges of reckless endangering and interfering with a peace officer, to run consecutively to one another but concurrent with the probation on the burglary count.


Pinedale man survives 500-foot drop in car

PINEDALE (WNE) — A Pinedale man survived a 500-foot drop when his car went over a cliff above Fremont Lake, but spent a cold night before contacting rescuers.

Lucas Corwin, 25, of Pinedale, was able to call Tuesday about 10:45 a.m. setting off a search by law enforcement agencies, firefighters and personnel from Bridger-Teton National Forest.

According to Sublette County Sheriff K.C. Lehr, when the call came in he and other law enforcement started walking the rights-of-way on Skyline Drive north of White Pine Ski Resort’s access road.

Lehr said at some point another officer heard Corwin shouting for help. The crash site was not visible from the road.

According to Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper Brandon Deckert, the Pontiac G6 “vaulted” almost 100 feet before hitting the edge of a rock shelf. The vehicle then cartwheeled end over end another 300 or 400 feet down the steep embankment.

During the fall, Corwin, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was ejected from the vehicle. The crash occurred before dark Monday night. Corwin managed to get into the crashed vehicle, despite back injuries. He remained in the vehicle until Tuesday morning.

According to the National Weather Service, temperatures fell to 21 degrees Fahrenheit during the night. Corwin was able to call for help Tuesday morning and give his approximate location.

Deckert said the cause of the crash was “intentional.” No alcohol or drugs are suspected in the crash. No citations were issued.


Torrington council tables chicken ordinance

TORRINGTON (WNE) — After two public comment sessions full of spirited debate both for and against an ordinance that would allow Torrington residents to have up to four laying hens within city limits, the Torrington City Council voted 3-2 to table the issue Tuesday night.

The urban chicken motion had passed on its first and second reading, but was tabled – or set aside – before the third reading. If it passed on the third reading, it would have been officially part of the city code.

Councilwoman Deanna Hill, who has voted twice in support of the ordinance, moved to table the issue. Councilman Matt Mattis, who introduced the urban chicken movement, seconded the motion and Councilman Ted Kinney voted with them in favor of tabling.

Mayor Randy Adams and Councilman Bill Law voted against the motion to table the matter.

Hill said she thought it would be appropriate to table the ordinance for the time being, which would allow the council to hear from representatives from other towns in Wyoming who have approved such an ordinance.

According to Mattis, tabling the urban chicken ordinance was in the best interest of the council.

“Last time we had a lot of opposition to this topic,” he said. “I think we need to do our due diligence to get more info from other cities that have proposed this. The best service we can do for our citizens is to make a better decision based on other cities and towns and the trials and tribulations they’ve had.”