NEWS BRIEFS for Friday, Jan. 3, 2020

From Wyoming News Exchange newspapers

Torrington murder trial set for February

TORRINGTON (WNE) – After more than a year of mental health evaluations and debate on Jamie Snyder’s competency, it seems that he’ll have his day in court. 

The plea cut-off date has passed and documents filed in the 8th Judicial District show that both the prosecution, led by Goshen County Attorney Eric Boyer and Deputy Attorney Jeremiah Sandburg, and Jamie Snyder’s defense attorney, Jonathon Foreman, are gearing up for Snyder’s trial. 

Snyder is set to stand trial on Feb. 10 at 9 a.m. for the 2018 murder of Wade Erschabeck. He is charged with first degree murder, and if he is found guilty, he could spend the rest of his life in prison. 

The trial will concern the events of May 2018, when Snyder allegedly stabbed Erschabeck in the chest in Fort Laramie. According to the Affidavit of Probable Cause, an eyewitness to the stabbing alleged Snyder aggressively followed a pickup truck the eyewitness and Erschabeck were riding in to a friend’s house. The eyewitness said the victim approached the driver’s side of the truck Snyder was driving, and said he could tell “Snyder was psyching himself up for a confrontation.”

The witness reported he saw Snyder exit his truck, and that Snyder then “aggressively and very quickly moved around the front of the pickup and stabbed Erschabeck in the chest,” the affidavit said. 

Since that time, Snyder has undergone several mental evaluations at the Wyoming State Hospital in Evanston as well as by an independent evaluator.


Shooting case moved to district court

CHEYENNE (WNE) — A Nebraska man accused of shooting someone in a hotel parking lot last month had his case bound over Thursday afternoon to Laramie County District Court.

Isaac James, 26, of Scottsbluff, Nebraska, is charged with attempted first-degree murder in connection with a Dec. 11 shooting that left a North Dakota man a paraplegic.

Isaac James, along with his brother, Terence James, 27, of Cheyenne, were allegedly part of a drug deal gone wrong that resulted in the brothers getting into an argument with Genaro Bojorquez, 35, of North Dakota and Joseph Andrade over methamphetamine. During the argument, Isaac James allegedly shot Bojorquez in the back, and Terence James allegedly punched Andrade in the face.

Terence James is charged with accessory, aid and abet attempted first-degree murder, and simple battery for the same incident. Terence James had his case bound over to district court last week.

Circuit Judge Denise Nau also set Isaac James’ bond at $1 million cash only; he was previously being held without bond.

According to court documents:

On Dec. 11, Cheyenne police responded to the TownePlace Suites by Marriott hotel parking lot on West Lincolnway in response to reports of someone being shot. When police arrived, they discovered Bojorquez shot in the back.

Bojorquez and Andrade bought drugs from Terence and Isaac James, and later that night, an altercation ensued between them. During the argument, Bojorquez was shot by Isaac James, and Andrade was punched in the face by Terence James.


Sheridan city, county to resume air service talks

SHERIDAN (WNE) — Sheridan County plans to resume negotiations with the city of Sheridan on a local air service funding agreement early in the new year, according to county Administrative Director Renee Obermueller.

The local governments have historically split the cost of contracting a commercial airline to operate out of Sheridan County Airport, but the two parties were unable to reach an agreement this summer to share the cost of bringing SkyWest Airlines — which will take over as the commercial air service provider at the county airport later this month — to Sheridan.

Sheridan County finalized a memorandum of understanding with the Wyoming Department of Transportation in August that secured SkyWest as the local commercial airline. The county initially planned to have an MOU in place with the city before finalizing that agreement, but opted to commit to paying SkyWest’s fee alone to meet a critical deadline with the state.

The city and county continued negotiating an agreement whereby the two entities would split the fee, but Obermueller said those talks fizzled.

She added, though, that progress on the funding agreement stopped because other priorities emerged, not because the differences between the two parties proved irreconcilable.

Sheridan City Council considered an air service funding MOU with the county during an August meeting, but chose to table the agreement after council members expressed concerns about the role the city would play in managing the new air service under the proposed agreement.


Part of high Tetons closed to allow goat removal

JACKSON (WNE) — A large swath of the high Tetons will be off limits next week to buffer the public from contracted aerial gunners who will have their sights set on non-native mountain goats.

The area closure, which includes the north and west slopes of the iconic Cathedral Group, will begin Sunday and extend as late as Jan. 12. Grand Teton National Park officials said in as statement that the area will be entirely closed to human entry for “public and operational safety.”

The weather-dependent operations will kick off Sunday with reconnaissance flights to map out where the 100 or so estimated goats in the range are spending their winter. The gunning, contracted to Oregon-based Baker Aircraft, will use non-lead rounds from a shotgun or rifle, the exact weapon depending on the conditions. Tentatively, goat killing will begin Monday, Teton Park spokeswoman Denise Germann said.

“We’re trying to be efficient and effective — so doing this as fast as possible in the most efficient way — and we believe that the aerial operations does that,” Germann said.

Ground-based killing by “qualified volunteers” who would hunt the goats is not taking place this winter, Germann said.

The purpose of Grand Teton Park's mountain goat eradication efforts is to help the mountain range's struggling native bighorn sheep.