NEWS BRIEFS for Friday, Nov. 1, 2019


From Wyoming News Exchange newspapers

East Entrance to Yellowstone Park closes Monday

CODY (WNE) — Yellowstone National Park’s East Entrance is scheduled to close for the season at 8 a.m. Monday.

However, in recent days the road into the Park has seen temporary closures due to snowfall.

As a result, it is not clear if Cody area drivers will have much access to the Park before the end-of-year shutdown.

Those interested in last-minute trips to visit the nation’s oldest national park should visit Yellowstone’s website to double check on road status. As of 11 a.m. Wednesday the East Entrance was open.

Most of the other remaining roads still open will close Monday until spring, 2020, with the exception of the North Entrance, which is open year-round, connecting to the Northeast Entrance.

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Woman charged in Evanston with sexual assault of minor

EVANSTON (WNE) — A 31-year-old woman was arraigned in Third District Court on Monday, Oct. 28, on charges of sexual abuse of a minor in the first degree. Magen N. Stuart pleaded not guilty to the charges. Stuart was charged after an investigation into an alleged sexual assault that occurred in Evanston in October to November of 2008, with a male family member who would have been a young child at the time. 

The investigation began following a complaint filed with the Evanston Police Department by a child advocacy center in a neighboring state. 

According to an affidavit filed in support of the charges, the boy described an incident in which Stuart was allegedly viewing a pornographic film and forced him to engage in sexual activity with her. The boy claimed he tried to resist but Stuart allegedly prevented him from doing so for several minutes before he was able to get away. 

If found guilty of the charge, Stuart faces up to 50 years of imprisonment, a $10,000 fine or both. A trial in the case has been scheduled for Feb. 4, 2020. 

 

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Former Goshen County clerk pleads not guilty to theft charges 

TORRINGTON  (WNE) – Former Clerk of District Court Kathi Rickard has entered a plea of not guilty to six counts of felony theft. 

Rickard appeared in the Eighth Judicial District Court in Torrington for an arraignment hearing on Tuesday afternoon. She is accused of embezzling more than $209,000 from district court funds she was elected to manage. Rickard’s case will now be set for trial.

If she is found guilty, she could face a maximum of 60 years in prison.

Judge F. Scott Peasely and special prosecutor Spencer Allred appeared via video-conference, due to travel conditions on Tuesday. 

The charges against Rickard are the result of an investigation by the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation, which was initiated after checks issued by the court were returned for non-sufficient funds. 

Agent Michael Carlson filed the affidavit of probable cause in the case after conducting a lengthy investigation into the court’s records. 

Carlson found the office used two checking accounts, known as WYUSER and QuickBooks in the office. “Upon completing his analysis, the auditor determined that between July 2014 and December 2018, approximately $58,678.28 in cash was missing from the WYUSER account and approximately $150,550.59 in cash was missing from the QuickBooks account,” the affidavit said. “The total of all the missing cash was $209,228.86.” 

The auditor’s report showed the first significant differences in the accounts began to show up in the summer of 2014 – when Rickard took over for the previous clerk. 

She resigned from her post in February, citing medical issues as the reason. 

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Woman charged with exploiting vulnerable Meeteetse resident

POWELL (WNE) — Authorities allege a 23-year-old woman neglected and exploited a 69-year-old Meeteetse man earlier this year, leading him to be hospitalized in July.

Tristen M. Brewer was arrested earlier this month on two felony counts.

In one charge, the Park County Attorney’s Office alleges that Brewer failed to provide “the minimum food, shelter, physical health care and other care as necessary to maintain the vulnerable adult life and health,” saying that “may have resulted in a life-threatening situation.” 

In the other charge, prosecutors allege that Brewer “intentionally and recklessly exploited” the man by misusing his money and failing to buy him food and pay his bills.

When authorities arranged for the man to be taken to Cody Regional Health on July 1, medical professionals found he was dehydrated, malnourished and had bed sores, dirty clothes and very poor hygiene; his fingernails had grown so long that they had reached and punctured one of his palms and he’d lost a significant amount of weight, authorities say.

During a preliminary hearing last week, Brewer’s court-appointed attorney, Scott Kath, argued that it was unclear whether his client was responsible for the man’s wellbeing or if that responsibility fell to others.

However, Park County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Waters ruled prosecutors have enough evidence to try Brewer on the allegations in district court.

Brewer allegedly told the sheriff’s office that she had been taking care of the man in exchange for living on the property — and “there’s no question he wasn’t being taken care of,” Waters said.

Brewer remained in the Park County Detention Center on Wednesday with bail set at $10,000. She has yet to enter a plea to the allegations.

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Hunting begins Saturday in Grand Teton National Park

JACKSON (WNE) — The annual fall flood of blaze orange-clad hunters strolling the roads around Kelly and Antelope Flats will begin this weekend in Grand Teton National Park.

Capped at 375 permittees, the park’s elk hunt, dubbed a “reduction program,” begins Saturday and continues until Dec. 8. The late-season hunt targets herds migrating back from summer ranges on their way to the National Elk Refuge, where hunting has been underway for two weeks — albeit with few elk.

National Elk Refuge biologist Eric Cole reported Thursday that the 2019 harvest has so far been a single animal.

“Elk GPS collar data confirms that elk are generally still on summer range or moving to lower elevation areas immediately adjacent to their summer ranges,” Cole wrote in a biological update he disseminates.

Hunting is an activity usually prohibited in national parks, but it occurs in Teton park because of Wyoming and National Park Service negotiations written into the 1950 legislation that created the park.

“Such program shall include the controlled reduction of elk in such park,” the 69-year-old bill says, “by hunters licensed by the State of Wyoming and deputized as rangers by the Secretary of the Interior, when it is found necessary for the purpose of proper management and protection of the elk.”

Grand Teton and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department have gradually scaled back the park hunt, eliminating bull hunting a handful of years ago and closing down the northernmost hunting zone, area 79, in order to limit the harvest on migratory portions of the herd that are struggling. License numbers are also on the downswing.

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