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By Clair McFarland
The Ranger Via Wyoming News Exchange 

Riverton couple charged with murder in Friday shooting

 

March 26, 2020



RIVERTON — A husband and wife were charged Friday morning in the death of 38-year-old Trevor Bartlett, who died of a gunshot wound early Thursday.

Court documents state the following: On March 26 at about 5:09 a.m., Courtnie Mills, 43, called the Riverton Police Department to report that 38-year-old Trevor Bartlett had shot himself to death at her home on Sunset Drive in Riverton.

Mills had said she and her husband, 37-year-old Mario Mills, found Bartlett dead in their garage that morning when they woke to let their dogs out.

Mario Mills said he last saw his friend at about 11:30 the night before, March 25, before leaving him alone, drinking alcohol in the garage.

Mills told police that Bartlett had been in a “dark place” recently, and had been talking about suicide. Mills also said he found his own Glock .45 caliber pistol on the ground approximately three feet from Bartlett’s body. After he found the weapon, Mills told police, he unloaded it and placed it on the work bench near his deceased friend.

RPD detective James Donahue arrived on scene, saw the body, and noted the pistol.

He noticed Bartlett had a single gunshot entry wound to the left side of his head near his temple. Blood speckling from the fired gun was somewhat spread out, not concentrated near the gunshot entry wound, Donhaue wrote in court documents.

“I found this to be odd because it indicated the firearm had been fired from the left side of Bartlett’s body, probably at a distance beyond six inches, rather than a typical contact-type wound often associated with suicide.”

The pistol also lacked the blood spatter or blowback pattern indicative of close contact.

Donahue found three live .45 caliber bullets in the area along with a single spent .45 caliber shell casing.

The casing was on the floor about six feet from where Bartlett was sitting when he suffered the gunshot wound.

There were fresh cuts on Bartlett’s right hand. At the victim’s feet, there was a Coca Cola bottle with blood spatter inside and out.

“There was not a logical reason for blood to be present in the interior of the Coca Cola bottle,” Donahue wrote.

Next to the bottle was another bottle, of hard alcohol, tipped over, partially consumed, and leaking on the floor. There was also blood on the outside of that bottle. The detective asked the married couple if their friend was right- or left-handed. Courtnie Mills said she knew him to be right-handed since she’d seen him at work. The gunshot wound was on the left side of his head. Due to these anomalies and the angle of the wound, Donahue concluded the shot “had been fired from a distance not likely achievable by Bartlett.”

The gun also was unharmed, which the detective found inconsistent with the report that it had landed the “unlikely” distance of three feet from Bartlett’s body as Mario Mills had claimed.

The two were interviewed separately later that morning within the Riverton Police Department.

Courtnie Mills said her husband woke her at 1:30 that morning saying Bartlett was dead and that he had killed him.

She went to the garage, checked their friend’s pulse, found that he was dead. She began to call 911, but her husband asked her not to because “he did not want to go to jail,” wrote Donahue. The woman noticed her husband looked dirty, as if he’d been fighting. Her husband said indeed they had been fighting: over the gun. After the struggle, Mills told his wife, he shot his friend, and decided to report the death as a suicide.

Mills went back to the garage with his wife, donned latex gloves, picked up the pistol and put it in Bartlett’s left hand, then took it out of his deceased friend’s hand, unloaded it, and put it on the workbench.

The pair went upstairs to their bedroom, undressed and placed their clothing in a white plastic garbage bag, which they hid under their bed.

After the visit from police, but before their 10 a.m. interviews at the station, the pair moved the bag of clothes again: dumping them in the dumpster at Courtnie Mills’ place of work in what Courtnie Mills would later admit was an attempt to conceal the crime. In his interview, Mario Mills described a sharp argument over suicide.

He and his friend were drinking the evening of March 25. His wife Courtnie went to bed at around 10:30. Bartlett was in a “dark place,” related Mills, saying he wanted to die, and had made a list of people he was going to kill before he died.

“Bartlett told… Mills he should shoot him because he was sick of life,” Donahue would later write of the interview. Mills said he got out his Glock and loaded it, telling his friend he should just shoot himself.

Bartlett said he had tried before but could never follow through with it, and again challenged Mills to kill him, according to the latter’s interview. Mills unloaded, reloaded the gun, he said, eventually telling Bartlett he couldn’t shoot him. They argued further about it, after which, Mills said, he gave in, grabbed the gun, and fired a single shot into his friend’s left temple.

“I killedTrevor!” yelled Mills during his interview. “I killed my best friend.”

He then said, “I wish I would have got Trevor’s request for me to kill him in writing.”

After Bartlett died, Mills said, he got his wife, donned the latex gloves and maneuvered the gun to make the act look like a suicide, and went upstairs with his wife and bagged their clothes. He took a shower and went to bed.

At five a.m., he woke up with his wife and reported Bartlett’s death as a suicide.

Mario Mills faces life in prison, or the death penalty, for first degree murder.

His wife faces a misdemeanor punishable by six months in jail and $750 in fines, if convicted of helping him to cover the act.

Both are from Riverton. Because the suspect in the case is her husband, Wyoming law defines Courtnie Mill’s alleged actions as a misdemeanor, not a felony. She is also charged with interference with a peace officer, which is punishable by up to one year in jail and $1,000 in fines.

 
 

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