By Daniel Bendtsen
Via Wyoming News Exchange
RIVERTON — Arapaho James Oldman was convicted of first-degree murder Friday at the end of a five-day trial over the November 2017 death of 36-year-old Chuck Dodge III, whose body was found crammed underneath a house in Arapahoe.
Oldman is set to be sentenced March 21 in Casper by U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl. Oldman faces up to life imprisonment.
Under a plea deal, co-defendants Monty Tabaho and Jori Lamebull pleaded guilty Jan. 4 to being an "accessory after the fact" to the murder. Matthew Whiteplume pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting a second-degree murder.
Whiteplume, Tabaho and Lamebull will be sentenced March 15. Tabaho also served as a witness for Oldman's defense on Thursday.
Federal prosecutors alleged Oldman and Whiteplume "got into an altercation with Mr. Dodge in a basement over alcohol, beat Dodge until he was unresponsive, and placed him in a crawlspace, where he died." Tabaho and Lamebull were accused of helping to hide Dodge's body.
According to an affidavit in the case, Oldman and others involved in the case assaulted and threatened witnesses to the crimes.
Some of those altercations came at rather public venues in Riverton, including at City Park, the Center of Hope detox center and Smith's.
Dodge had been dead at least 36 hours at the time he was found, investigators said, and he was covered in a white, granular substance believed to be lye, lime or laundry detergent.
Dodge, Oldman, Whiteplume and two unnamed individuals were drinking vodka in the basement of the Arapahoe home on Nov. 22, FBI investigators believe.
Dodge tried to save some of the liquor for the next because he did not think he could buy more on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 23.
Oldman later became angry, however, that Dodge would not share, and Oldman assaulted Dodge, eventually attacking him with a wrench. At one point Whiteplume also kicked Dodge, the affidavit states.
When Dodge became unresponsive, Oldman dragged Dodge's body into the crawlspace, witnesses told the FBI. According to witnesses, Oldman then "unplugged the freezer in the basement, stating that once the meat inside went bad, people would attribute any bad smells to that, and not the body in the crawlspace.”