NEWS BRIEFS for Friday, Jan. 31, 2020

Man killed in Laramie crash

LARAMIE (WNE) — Laven Hamre, an 84-year-old Laramie man, was killed Wednesday afternoon when he was driving his 2005 Lincoln Town Car west on Grand Avenue and drifted into the eastbound lane just east of Boulder Avenue.

When Laramie Police Department officers arrived on the scene at about 2:50 p.m., they determined that Hamre, who was trapped in his car, had died.

According to a press release from LPD, Hamre entered the eastbound lane for “an unknown reason” and collided with the back-driver side door area of a westbound 2000 Honda Accord driven by 60-year-old Laramie man Leonard Martin. Martin was not injured in the accident.

Hamre’s car continued in the eastbound lane, colliding nearly head-on with a 2003 GMC box van, driven by 30-year-old Cheyenne resident Caleb Tipton, that was not able to avoid the collision.Hamre was pronounced dead at the scene.

Tipton was transported to Ivinson Memorial Hospital for injuries sustained in the crash. 24-year-old Laramie resident Tyler Sims was a passenger in the box van but was not injured. A medical issue or driver inattention on the part of Hamre are being investigated as possible contributing factors.


Man sentenced to prison in sex assault

EVANSTON — An Evanston man has been sentenced to 2-1/2 to 7 years in prison after changing his plea to no contest in a case involving sexual activity with three different victims who were minors at the time. 

In Third District Court on Tuesday, Jan. 28, Rodney William “Bill” Blakeman pleaded no contest to two counts of second-degree sexual assault and one count of taking immodest, immoral or indecent liberties with a child. The change of plea was the result of a plea agreement with the Uinta County Attorney’s office. 

Blakeman was initially charged in October 2019 with four counts of second-degree sexual assault along with the immodest, immoral or indecent liberty charge following an investigation by Evanston Police Department Detective Jake Williams into reports made by victims concerning incidents that occurred more than two decades ago between 1996 and 1999. All five charges were felonies and convictions could have resulted in up to 90 years in prison and $40,000 in fines. 

The victims — all now adults — included Blakeman’s family members as well as the child of one of Blakeman’s former friends. At the time of the assaults, the girls ranged in age from 6 to 17. 

Two of the victims spoke in the courtroom, including a woman who was 6 years old at the time of the assault. The woman said the assault had a profound impact on her life, leaving her struggling with chronic depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. 


Jackson police still handing out holiday cash

JACKSON (WNE) — Heading into February, Jackson police officers are still rewarding good Samaritans with cash gifts left over from their annual Christmas donation.

Christmastime 2019 was the fifth year that an anonymous group of donors gave thousands of dollars to the Teton County Sheriff’s Office and the Jackson Police Department to hand out to deserving citizens.

This year the stack totaled $25,850, the largest donation yet.

Jackson officers have given away $9,500 of their $13,000 share so far, Lt. Roger Schultz said.

“We paid for taxi rides home on New Year’s Eve,” Schultz said. “We provided an Uber and hotel room to a victim of a crime. We gave money to people working on the holidays.”

Some drivers who were in violation of the law even got some cash.

“We stopped a couple people for registration violations and gave them money to pay for their registration,” Schultz said.

The goal is to encourage positive interactions between law enforcement and members of the community.

“We stopped a lady who didn’t have a car seat for her child and bought her one,” Schultz said. “We gave money to a woman who lost her cellphone at the scene of a collision.”

Officers also bought bus tickets for a couple who needed to get to Florida, Schultz said.

Every officer or deputy gets $500 to hand out around the holidays. Most hand out $100 per interaction, and they’re deliberate about who they give it to.