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MAY 27 Wyoming News Briefs

Cheyenne kidnapping suspect bound over to district court


May 23, 2019

Cheyenne kidnapping suspect bound over to district court

CHEYENNE (WNE) — A Cheyenne man accused of kidnapping a 1-year-old child and assaulting the child’s pregnant mother was bound over Friday to Laramie County District Court.

Mijito Johnson, 26, is facing two felony counts of aggravated assault against a pregnant woman and one count of interference with custody of a child.

Following testimony at Johnson’s preliminary hearing Friday, Laramie County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Lee said there’s sufficient evidence to move the case on to district court.

Johnson was arrested at his brother’s house in Aurora, Colorado, on April 11 after allegedly striking his pregnant girlfriend multiple times and kidnapping her son.

An Amber Alert was issued in Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma, prompting a multi-state search for the abducted child.

Johnson was extradited to Wyoming, and is currently being held in Laramie County jail on a $15,000 cash bond.

According to court documents, a Cheyenne police officer was dispatched to a possible child custody incident around 3:12 p.m. April 11.

Johnson got into an argument with his live-in girlfriend over a car seat, which quickly became physical. The two began to struggle over the child, and Johnson struck the child’s mother in the head with an unknown object, causing her to briefly black out and fall to the ground.

The woman told officers that after she regained consciousness, she hit Johnson and asked him to leave her alone. Johnson left in his vehicle, but soon returned, eventually fleeing the area holding the child in his arms while driving the vehicle.

Reporting officers observed blood on the left side of the woman’s face and shirt, as well as bruises on her right cheek and both shoulders.


Trial for tribal judge delayed until July

RIVERTON (WNE) — Citing complications in childbearing, Wind River Indian Reservation tribal Judge Terri Smith, who was indicted March 19 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for the misuse of a communications center and the unlawful delivery of cocaine, has been given a later trial date than the originally scheduled June 3.

Smith will now go to trial July 29 in Cheyenne.

When a visibly pregnant Smith was arraigned March 27 in Lander, she pleaded "not guilty" to both charges against her.

She was then released on a $25,000 unsecured bond.

Smith gave birth to her second child May 2.

Two weeks after giving birth, she filed a "motion to continue" which both waived her right to a speedy trial and asked for a later trial date than the June 3 appointment set by U.S. Magistrate Theresa McKee - but also an earlier one than Sept. 2 of this year.

Smith wrote in her request for the continuance that she had been placed on maternity leave "earlier than anticipated in order to reduce the level of stress on me and the baby."

She wrote further that "because of... the increased healing time I required (after giving birth), I have not been able to spend the time necessary with my attorney to review the voluminous discovery provided by the United States nor adequately prepare for trial."

United State District Judge Alan B. Johnson granted Smith's continuance request.


Devils Tower impact on local economies set at $38 million

GILLETTE (WNE) — A new National Park Service report shows that 468,215 visitors to Devils Tower National Monument in 2018 spent $30 million in communities near the park. That spending supported 414 jobs in the area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $38.2 million.

“The nation’s first national monument welcomes visitors from across the country and around the world,” said Amnesty Kochanowski, superintendent of Devils Tower National Monument, in a press release. “We are delighted to share the stories of Devils Tower and the experiences it provides. The Tower also introduces many visitors to Northeast Wyoming and all that it offers.”

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Egan Cornachione of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service. The report shows $20.2 billion of direct spending by more than 318 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 329,000 jobs nationally, with 268,000 of those jobs found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $40.1 billion.


Man charged with felonies in knife attack

LARAMIE (WNE) — A Laramie man has been charged with two counts of aggravated assault and battery and one count of domestic battery for a May 18 incident in which he allegedly chased his daughter’s boyfriend with a knife.

40-year-old Sergio Ortega-Lopez was arrested that Saturday after an officer with the Laramie Police Department was dispatched to a house on S. 6th Street after receiving a report of a “father and son who were currently in a physical altercation and one of the subjects had a knife.”

Ortega-Lopez’s daughter told police that she got into an argument with her father after tracking him down when he had been driving around town while drunk.

During the argument, Ortega-Lopez was drunk and “became verbally aggressive towards her boyfriend, and the defendant called her boyfriend derogatory name (sic) several times and they began pushing and shoving each other, then punching each other,” according to a police affidavit.

Ortega-Lopez then grabbed a kitchen knife then began “charging her boyfriend” as the boyfriend ran out of the house.

The daughter then called Ortega-Lopez’s son, who arrived as his father was still chasing the boyfriend.

The “brother and defendant engaged in physical altercation and at one point her brother grabbed the knife out of the defendant’s hand and threw it into front yard,” the affidavit states. “They were both involved in a physical altercation when the police arrived.”

The son had a roughly three-inch laceration that he said he believed he received when he grabbed for the knife.


Gillette man sentenced in poaching case

GILLETTE (WNE) — A Gillette man must pay $4,000 in restitution and has had his hunting privileges suspended for two years because he killed a buck mule deer with a rifle during an archery-only season last fall.

Eric S. Sorensen, 42, was caught after a ranch manager called North Gillette Game Warden Kristen DaVanon on Sept. 16 after hunters on his land heard gunshots on nearby public land and later saw Sorensen with a buck mule deer, according to a Wyoming Game and Fish press release.

The ranch manager then visited with Sorensen on a road, saw him with the deer and provided his license plate number to DaVanon.

Sorensen and he agreed to meet DaVanon at noon. He had the deer in his possession, but denied that he had taken it with a firearm.

When she met with him for a second interview that evening, he admitted shooting the deer with a rifle from a roadway. He no longer had the deer carcass in his possession, claiming that while he was removing the cape, skull and antlers the meat had gone bad.

He admitted to dumping the meat along Echeta Road. DaVanon located the abandoned meat and determined most of it would have been salvageable at the time he disposed of it, according to the press release.

DaVanon confiscated the deer head and cape and Sorensen was charged with waste or abandonment of a big game animal, use of a firearm during a special archery season and shooting from a roadway. In addition to the restitution, he must pay $615 in fines.


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