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January 24, 2019

Party switching bill killed a second time in committee

CHEYENNE (WNE) — A closed primary bill that failed Tuesday once again couldn't win enough support for it to move on to the Senate floor Thursday.

But a similar measure in the House and a newly filed bill in the Senate mean the issue of closed primaries is still alive this session.

Senate File 32 had failed in the Senate Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee on a 3-2 vote Tuesday. But Chairman Bill Landen, R-Casper, tried to bring it back for potential reconsideration Thursday morning. The committee ultimately voted against reconsideration on a 3-2 vote.

Landen, who voted against the bill Tuesday, said he decided to offer the bill up for reconsideration after hearing from constituents who supported it. He also heard from fellow senators that they wanted a chance to debate it on the floor.

Sen. Charles Scott, R-Casper, has been a vocal opponent of closing off primaries, and voted against brining SF 32 back for reconsideration. He summed up his thoughts on the bill Thursday before his vote when he said, "If you see a snake, kill it."

SF 32 would have prevented a registered voter from switching their party affiliation once candidates started to file their nomination applications. That lockout would have extended until after the primary election was over. Currently, a voter can switch their party registration up to and including the day of the primary.

Man sentenced to jail in sexual abuse of children

EVANSTON (WNE) — Third District Court Judge Joseph Bluemel has accepted a plea agreement between the Uinta County Attorney’s office and an Evanston man related to sentencing for the man’s guilty pleas to five counts of sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree.

Marcus P. Delgado was sentenced for the crimes on the morning of Tuesday, Jan. 22. Delgado pleaded guilty to the charges back in December as part of the plea agreement that reduced the charges from first-degree to second-degree sexual abuse of a minor and dismissed four additional counts.

The agreement was reached between Uinta County Attorney Loretta Howieson-Kallas and Delgado’s attorney, Nathan Jeppsen. The agreement included a total sentence of nine to 13 years of imprisonment; however, the bulk of that time was suspended. Delgado was sentenced to serve one year in the Uinta County Jail followed by six years of supervised probation.

The charges stemmed from events that occurred from 2015-17, when Delgado had sexual contact with two victims who were between six and eight years old at the time. Court documents indicate the two victims were the children of family friends.

In court on Tuesday, the mothers of both victims urged Bluemel to reject the plea agreement. Both women said their daughters are now facing a lifetime of consequences because of Delgado’s actions. One mother said her daughter wakes up screaming due to nightmares and the other said her daughter has been diagnosed with severe anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder due to the abuse.

“This is a slap on the wrist compared to the crimes he committed,” said one victim’s mother.

Bill would put harsher penalties on those eluding police

GILLETTE (WNE) — A bill has been introduced to the state Legislature that would enact harsher penalties on drivers who put others in danger while fleeing from law enforcement.

Senate File 127 creates the felony of aggravated fleeing or attempting to elude police. Fleeing or eluding is now a misdemeanor no matter the circumstances.

“We’ve had people leave a traffic stop and cause other crashes, and the only thing you can do is charge them with a misdemeanor,” said Campbell County Sheriff Scott Matheny.

The bill has a number of sponsors, including Rep. Bill Pownall, R-Gillette. If it passes, Wyoming will join 25 other states that have a felony version of the crime. The bill is written so that not everyone who drives away from officers will be charged with a felony.

“We’re not trying to hang a felony charge on a 16-year-old who wants to run from the police,” Matheny said.

The bill defines aggravated fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer as when a driver:

Attempts to cause or intentionally or knowingly causes bodily injury to any other person;

Causes property damage to the property of any other person in an amount exceeding $5,000, and

Violates the state law that outlines reckless driving, which is defined as driving any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property

Anyone convicted of this crime faces a fine of not more than $10,000, imprisonment for not more than 10 years or both.

“I think it’s fair. I think it’s a good start,” Matheny said, adding that the purpose of the bill is to “hammer these guys that think it’s OK to run from law enforcement.”

No charges in moose shooting

PINEDALE (WNE) — A Sublette County resident will not be charged after shooting a charging moose.

According to a press release from Sublette County Attorney Mike Crosson, on Jan. 14, the Pinedale Regional Office of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department was contacted by a reporting party who stated that he had just shot and killed an antlerless adult bull moose on his property, in self-defense.

Game wardens assisted by the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office arrived on scene and observed a dead bull moose with an apparent fatal gunshot wound.

After completing an investigation, based upon examination of all available physical evidence and an interview with the reporting party, it was determined by game wardens that the moose was shot at very close range in justifiable self-defense as it charged.

“After reviewing all evidence in the case and meeting with the lead investigator Jordan Kraft, Crosson concurred that the shooting was legally justified under the circumstances and charges will not be filed at this time,” Crosson stated in the release.

“It appears likely that the moose had become habituated to eating the hay/alfalfa mix feed located on the property and was defending this food source when it charged,” the release states.

Crosson declined to release the name of the person shooting the moose, saying, “It is my general policy with limited exceptions that I will not name persons of interest in potential criminal investigations unless there is probable cause that a crime was committed, in order to protect their privacy.”


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