WYOMING NEWS BRIEFS: July 8, 2020
July 2, 2020
Not guilty plea entered in double murder case
CHEYENNE (WNE) — The man accused of fatally shooting two adults and shooting two children pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges Monday afternoon in Laramie County District Court.
Andrew Weaver is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, aggravated assault and battery with bodily injury with a weapon and felon in possession of a firearm.
Weaver is back in district court after being charged, convicted and sentenced in U.S. District Court in connection with this crime. Federally, Weaver pleaded guilty to possession of a stolen firearm and was sentenced to 120 months in prison to be served concurrent with any sentences in the underlying Laramie County case.
In the Laramie County case, Weaver's trial is currently scheduled for Nov. 3.
If convicted on the first-degree murder charges, Weaver could face the death penalty or life in prison.
According to court documents:
On Sept. 16, Weaver allegedly went to 3436 E. 11th St. and shot four people. Shaline Wymer, 30, was found dead at the residence with a gunshot wound to her head, and Adrien Butler, 37, was shot in the head and declared dead at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, according to court documents.
When officers found Weaver in a field by Ashley Furniture on Nationway, he was in possession of a silver-and-black Smith and Wesson 9mm semiautomatic handgun, according to court documents.
Laramie council to review face mask resolution
LARAMIE (WNE) — The Laramie City Council will consider a resolution at the next available meeting that would request Albany County officials work with the state to require the wearing of masks in public places.
Councilman Paul Weaver considered bringing a walk-on item for Tuesday’s agenda in the form of a resolution. But before the meeting began, council members opted to consider the measure at the next available meeting.
Because Albany County is generally responsible for public health orders, the city’s resolution would be a formal request for Albany County Health Officer Jean Allais to work with the state on a city-wide mask requirement.
Weaver said he wanted to see a mandate that requires masks to be worn inside public spaces with exceptions for things like eating and drinking in a restaurant or bar.
With many local institutions such as the University of Wyoming, Ivinson Memorial Hospital and several businesses already requiring masks, Weaver said it makes sense to implement a city-wide order.
“I think the data is backing it up as far as having an impact on coronavirus spread, so why would we not do that?” he said.
Man pleads guilty to stealing from dispatch center
ROCK SPRINGS (WNE) — The former director of the Sweetwater County Combined Communications Dispatch Center pleaded guilty Monday to making nearly $4,000 in purchases for personal use from the center’s funds. He was sentenced to three years of supervised probation and ordered to pay restitution.
Robin Etienne and his wife Laura Etienne were both arrested in January 2020 and charged with felony and misdemeanor counts related to allegedly misusing an Amazon account and making nearly $7,000 in combined unauthorized purchases while he was working as director. The couple moved to Sweetwater County in 2011 when Robin Eitenne was hired by the combined dispatch center. They currently live in Ogden, Utah.
Charges against Robin Etienne included felony theft and two misdemeanor charges — wrongful appropriation of public property and unlawful use of a credit card. The crimes occurred between September of 2016 and March of 2018. His change of plea Monday afternoon in District Court via video hearing was part of an agreement with the state of Wyoming.
Robin Etienne received a suspended three- to five-year prison sentence on the felony theft charge and three years of supervised probation. For wrongful appropriation of public property, he received a suspended one-year sentence with one year of supervised probation. For unlawful use of a credit card, he received a suspended six-month sentence and six months of supervised probation. The three probation periods are to be served concurrently. Robin Eitenne was also ordered to pay $3,987.77 in restitution plus court fees.
Search and rescue team has slowest winter, spring season ever
JACKSON (WNE) — Teton County Search and Rescue had its slowest winter and spring seasons ever.
A midyear review documented only 18 call-outs from December 2019 to June 1. That’s the fewest accidents in a six-month stretch in the volunteer organization’s nearly 30-year history.
“We are hopeful that prevention education through Backcountry Zero has helped our community be more prepared and practiced for adventuring in the Tetons,” said Stephanie Thomas, director of the Teton County Search and Rescue Foundation. “But our team continues to train to be ready to respond when accidents happen.”
Though the winter and spring months showed a slowdown in calls for help, the summer has seen an increase, foundation Communications Director Matt Hansen said.
“There has been a steady increase since June 1, with the team responding to six accidents already this summer,” Hansen said.
Backcountry Zero, an initiative that started in 2015, is an education program to reduce injuries and fatalities in the Jackson Hole region.
That education, the foundation believes, has helped people be more prepared as they hike, hunt, climb, ski and snowmobile in the backcountry.
In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic likely also slashed winter and spring rescue numbers, Hansen said. Grand Teton National Park, for example, closed access to the high peaks for 55 days at a time when ski mountaineers typically pursue more challenging lines. In late March, April and part of May, many national parks closed entry gates to discourage travel and tourism amid the global pandemic.
Fireworks explosion damages fire station
TORRINGTON (WNE) — One firefighter was treated for a hand injury and seven others narrowly escaped disaster last week when an accidental firework discharge caused an explosion at the Torrington Volunteer Fire Department’s lower station in Pioneer Park.
Firefighters were loading four-inch mortar shells on July 1 when the discharge triggered the large fireworks intended to be the city’s Fourth of July display to explode, causing significant damage to the building and its contents.
“This could have been a tragedy,” TVFD Chief Lance Petsch said. “So far, everyone is good.”
Petsch, who was present during the explosion, said his ears were ringing and his heart was racing. He said he had no idea why the firework discharged.
“We had just loaded a tube like we’ve done for 15 years, with the same safety precautions,” he said. “We heard the squib pop, and then one launched. As soon as that happened, everybody started bailing out of the building.”
The incident is being investigated by the Wyoming State Fire Marshall, as is protocol with any fire.
“Honestly, we don’t know what happened,” Petsch said. “These were the same safety measures we’ve always done. It just shows something can happen.”
The explosion led to the cancellation of the Torrington Independence Day celebration. According to the city’s 2019 annual budget, the city spent $12,000 on the display.
Volunteer fire departments from Lingle, Yoder and Veteran responded to the scene.