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Wyoming News Briefs - June 24, 2020

Cheyenne day care worker charged with manslaughter

CHEYENNE (WNE) -- A local day care worker has been charged with manslaughter over the swaddling death of an 8-month-old girl in her care.

Kristina Croy, 37, of Cheyenne was arrested on a warrant for voluntary manslaughter June 16 by Cheyenne Police Department officers. She was later charged with a single count of manslaughter for allegedly killing an 8-month-old child that was at her day care.

The manslaughter charge carries a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison and/or up to a $10,000 fine.

According to court documents:

On Sept. 25, 2019, the 8-month-old, M.G., arrived at the hospital via ambulance not breathing and without a pulse. After an autopsy, it was discovered M.G. died due to positional asphyxia, meaning she died because she couldn't breath in the position she was placed in.

M.G. was at Croy's day care, "It's a Child's World They Matter," which was a home day care.

Croy put M.G. in a "little sleeper," which is a device that zips up to a child's neck and holds the arms down with a Velcro-like fastener.

Croy put M.G. in the swaddling device despite specific and numerous instructions from M.G.'s mother not to swaddle M.G. Infants who are old enough to roll on their own and can sit up on their own, such as M.G. could, also aren't supposed to be swaddled.

Wyoming child care licensing rules also prohibit swaddling toddlers without a directive from a physician.

The swaddling device used on M.G. was recovered by officers and was listed as a size small, for 3- to 6-month-old infants weighing 13-18 pounds and was 22½ inches long. M.G. was 8 months old, 19 pounds and 25 inches long at the time of her death.


Gas prices continue to rise but still below last year

GILLETTE (WNE) — Gasoline prices across Wyoming increased again last week, but substantially less than the rise noted a week before.

Gas prices average $2.03 a gallon today, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 494 stations. Gas prices in Wyoming are 19.5 cents a gallon higher than a month ago and stand 75.3 cents per gallon lower than a year ago.

They rose gas 0.6 cents a gallon in the past week but had risen 7.9 cents the prior week.

Campbell County prices are the second lowest in the state at $1.87 a gallon, with only the $1.85 price in Converse County lower, according to Gas Buddy reports.

The cheapest station in Wyoming is priced at $1.71 a gallon today while the most expensive is $2.59 a gallon. The national average price of gasoline has risen 1.5 cents per gallon in the last week, averaging $2.12 a gallon today. The national average is up 17.2 cents per gallon from a month ago

It is the eighth straight week for higher gas prices, said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.

"Gasoline demand has continued to recover over the last week, with a 3% rise in demand versus last week,” he said. “Americans continue to increasingly get in the car as summer progresses, eager not to miss out on the best months of the year, and our data is clear on that. In turn, the resurgence in gasoline demand is also pushing oil prices to their highest level in months, fueling gas prices to rebound as Americans try to find some sense of normalcy amidst the ongoing COVID-19 situation.”


Rawlins woman appears in court for alleged role in local meth ring

RAWLINS (WNE) — A Rawlins woman could spend up to 20 years in prison for allowing meth dealing to go on in her home.

Terri Lynn James, 53, is charged with conspiracy to deliver methamphetamine, a felony count that comes with a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and/or a $25,000 fine.

James pleaded not guilty to the charge on Monday in Carbon County District Court.

According to an arrest affidavit:

In 2019, the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation received multiple tips, conducted numerous interviews and made many observations related to an ongoing meth distribution network within Rawlins. The DCI agents investigated and interviewed numerous people, ultimately discovering a meth distribution ring in Rawlins and the greater Carbon County area.

James, Anthony Kulisz and a number of other individuals were mentioned as being part of the distribution ring. Kulisz pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance and use of meth in May.

Kulisz, Terri James and Jennifer James were living at a home on 12th Street. On Dec. 19, law enforcement conducted a search at the trio’s house and evidence found included: methamphetamine, marijuana, a number of pills, drug paraphernalia and various cell phones.

Jennifer James’ bedroom was decorated with the names of people, including co-conspirators in the case such as Brittany Dys, Gabriel Romero and Rika Martinez.

Jennifer and Terri James were both placed under arrest, the former for drug charges and the latter for failure to pay child support, but Kulisz was released. He was interviewed by police, and told agents that Jennifer James was the person dealing meth out of the home.


Jackson man loses appeal, sentenced to jail for not allowing blood draw

JACKSON (WNE) — A defendant who was charged with interference for not allowing a blood draw after a traffic stop was ordered to spend 75 days in jail.

Christian Garza was sentenced last week, almost three years after his arrest.

Garza was convicted of interference after a 2018 jury trial in Teton County Circuit Court. He appealed that decision. The Wyoming Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that refusing an officer or judge’s search warrant can be criminal interference.

“It needs to be clear to the public that you don’t get rewarded for refusing the warrant,” Teton County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Clark Allan said at the sentencing hearing.

Garza’a attorney Alex Freeburg made the argument that since his client was peaceful and didn’t resist or try to fight with the arresting deputy that the crime shouldn’t constitute interference.

Freeburg also believes his client was not drunk when he was pulled over in December 2017.

“It would have been a very difficult DUI to prove for the state,” Freeburg said in court.

He said Garza felt profiled as a Mexican American man and refused to do a breath test and later refused the search warrant for his blood.

Under Wyoming law, officers can ask a judge to sign a search warrant for defendants’ blood if they refuse a breath test.

Garza maintains that it seems unconstitutional for the government to be able to take his blood through a warrant.

Freeburg said 7 to 10 days in jail would accomplish the goals of sentencing. Garza has since moved to Texas and is employed there. He’ll have to travel back to Teton County to serve his jail sentence.


Threat evacuates Bill hotel; no bomb found

BILL (WNE) — Employees and guests at the Travelodge Inn on WYO 59 were evacuated after a bomb threat close to midnight last Thursday.

Converse County sheriff’s deputies responded to the motel in Bill, 35 miles north of Douglas, and set up a perimeter for safety, Undersheriff Nate Hughes said in a press release.

“All guests and workers were evacuated, identified and accounted for,” Hughes said. “Alternative lodging was provided for those workers and guests who did not wish to wait while this process was carried out.”

Some guests were unable to get to their vehicles but were provided a courtesy ride into Douglas and were provided lodging.

The county doesn’t maintain an Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) team, but deputies requested assistance through the Office of Homeland Security, Converse County Emergency Management and members of the regional EOD team from Natrona and Laramie counties, according to Hughes.

“No devices were found in the hotel or surrounding area,” Hughes said. “The parking lot and vehicles parked there were checked with no devices found.”

Social media posts claimed that the bomb threat was allegedly called in by an ex-boyfriend of a hotel employee, but that has not been corroborated by authorities nor been able to be confirmed by the Douglas Budget. No additional information is available, and the case is still under investigation, according to Hughes.