NEWS BRIEFS for Thursday, July 18, 2019

Trial date set in attempted murder charge

GILLETTE (WNE) — A trial date of Oct. 31 has been set for a man accused of attempted first-degree murder after he allegedly fired shots outside of Mingles Lounge in September, one of which hit a man in the leg.

The trial for D’Marco Lee Jones has been scheduled for seven days at the request of Campbell County Attorney Ronald E. Wirthwein, who expects some lengthy testimony.

Wirthwein and defense attorney Mitchell Damsky had been in plea negotiations for several months and had twice asked for — and received — permission to postpone pre-trial hearings. But a third request was denied June 26 by District Judge Michael N. “Nick” Deegan, who said the months since Jones’ arraignment in October 2018 had provided plenty of time to engage in plea negotiations.

The two had been at Mingles Sept. 22 when racial slurs were made and someone batted Jones’ phone out of his hand, according to court documents. The Michigan men had arrived in Gillette earlier in the evening and checked into the Fairfield Inn and Suites before visiting the nearby bar.

After the racial comments were made, a fight broke out in the parking lot and they joined in. Among those in the fight were the 51-year-old man who was later shot and a woman who pulled or threatened to pull a gun, according to court documents.

Jones remains in Campbell County jail.


Wildfires burn more than 300 acres

WORLAND (WNE) — Three fires that started Thursday afternoon, July 11, were all contained by Saturday, according to the Bureau of Land Management. 

According to the Big Horn County Fire Warden, Hyattville Fire Department and BHC Fire Warden responded for a mutual aide wildland fire reported in the area of North Brokenback, in Washakie County on July 11. The fire was burning in rugged and rough terrain. 

BLM Public Spokesperson Emmett Press said the Brokenback Fire, which started just before 1 p.m., burned 43 acres. It was considered contained Friday night. 

According to the Worland Volunteer Fire Department, through their Facebook page, at 3:02 p.m., July 11, Worland Volunteer Fire Department was called to an area south of Banjo Road for a report of smoke. Upon arrival three separate fires were found in the area . Two of the fires merged into one, called the Corbin fire.

The second fire was called the Banjo fire. 

Press said both fires were contained on Friday night. 

The Corbin fire burned 163.7 acres and Banjo Fire burned 159 acres for a total of 322.7 acres. 

There are no road closures with any of the fires. No structures are at risk. There were no injuries reported. 

In addition to BLM crews, assisting with firefighting efforts were crews from Big Horn, Hot Springs and Washakie County fire departments, Shoshone and Bighorn National Forests, two BLM air tankers and a Wyoming State helicopter. 

Press said that the suspected causes for all three fires are lightning strikes but they have not confirmed that as of Monday afternoon. 


Man accused of beating, strangling his girlfriend

CHEYENNE (WNE) — A Cheyenne man is accused of strangling and beating up his girlfriend after she refused to have sex with him.

Brandon Gene Bruckner, 31, was arrested June 28 by Laramie County Sheriff’s deputies and charged with two counts of applying pressure on the throat or neck, two counts of domestic battery, false imprisonment, reckless endangerment and possession of a controlled substance.

His preliminary hearing in Laramie County Circuit Court was Friday, after which he was released on a $5,000 bond.

According to court documents:

Bruckner and the victim got into an argument after she refused to have sexual intercourse with him. He left the bedroom and went into the living room for an unknown period of time.

Bruckner then returned to the bedroom and demanded to see the victim’s phone and bank card.

The victim refused, and Bruckner started to hit her on the back of her head. The victim told deputies she was unsure of the amount of times she was hit. The victim then tried to leave the bedroom, where the fight was occurring, and Bruckner pinned her down on the bed. There were red scratch marks on her chest from him pinning her down with his forearm.

When deputies arrived, they viewed several injuries on the victim, including multiple contusions on the back of her head and a scratch near her chin.

When officers made contact with Bruckner, he told them he was acting in self-defense, and they should arrest the victim for biting him.


Forest Service investigates manufactured rock-climbing holds

WORLAND (WNE) — The manufacture of rock-climbing holds being created in Ten Sleep Canyon has led to an investigation by the United States Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). 

Manufactured holds to many climbers are unethical and to many they are not, but to the USFS and BLM manufactured holds are considered damaging federal property. 

“It is illegal. Yes we know that it is being done. We have evidence, we have photos as part of our work with the BLM, which is also experiencing this on their lands, so we have been meeting with different agencies and, yes, we know it’s happening. It’s considered damaging a natural feature, we are investigating right now, we have law enforcement working on it right now,” Public Affairs Specialist Sara Kirol with the Bighorn National Forest stated. 

BLM public spokesperson Emmett Press stated that while they haven’t seen much evidence of the practice on their lands, it appears to be funneling down to their lands so they are working with the USFS to mitigate the situation. 

A letter published to Facebook by Charlie Kardaleff, Aaron Huey and JB Haab and published in the climbers magazine “Gripped” states, “Ten Sleep Canyon is getting chipped, drilled, and glued to death. It’s not a few routes, or a few holds, it is substantial manufacturing. Reports from locals are of entire crags put up over the past three seasons with heavy fabrication. We want it to stop. We think that the routes should be removed from the walls and guidebooks.”


‘Decoy driver’ sentenced in Sundance

SUNDANCE (WNE) — Lee Her of California has been sentenced on several felony charges after allegedly acting as a “decoy driver” for a vehicle carrying 83 pounds of marijuana.

On March 15, 2018, at around 6 p.m., a Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper observed two vehicles traveling eastbound on U.S. 212 that were close enough together he believed they were associated. 

A second trooper was paged and caught up to the vehicles, where he observed the rear vehicle traveling too closely to the first to allow a passing vehicle to occupy the space between them. 

Suspecting that the driver was acting as a “decoy” by attempting to get his attention so that he would stop him and disregard the vehicle in front, but observing no violations from the lead car, the trooper reports that he initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle because both were approaching the South Dakota line. The driver was identified as Her.

The trooper’s K-9 gave a positive alert to the presence of narcotics in several places around the exterior of the vehicle. A search of the car revealed a gym bag containing around $2569 in U.S. currency but nothing further.

The lead vehicle was pulled over in South Dakota and a search revealed 83 pounds of marijuana in two large bags.

Her was sentenced to 180 days in the Crook County Detention Center, with credit for 113 days served, and four to five years in a state penal institution, as well as $15,000 in fines. The term in the state penal institution and $5000 of the fine were suspended pending completion of four years of probation.


New dinosaur on exhibit at Dinosaur Center

THERMOPOLIS (WNE) — The Wyoming Dinosaur Center unveiled a new, permanent exhibit during a gathering on July 12.

The story begins at least 140 million years ago, when "Lori" the dinosaur roamed the earth.

The difference between Lori and the other dinosaurs, however, is that she's basically the size of a chicken, less than three-feet long and she has the honor of being the smallest dinosaur found in Wyoming.

Hesperornithoides miessleri is her scientific name and she falls in with a group of meat-eating dinosaurs called Troodontids who sport sickle-like killing claws and have above average intelligence. Think velociraptor in a smaller form with feathers.

Lori was discovered in the Dinosaur Center's dig site in the Morrison Formation near Douglas in 2001.

Wyoming Dinosaur Center paleontologist, Bill Wahl, said Lori was found in the same spot as "Jimbo" the Supersaurus.

"Lori was found while removing a ledge of rock at the Jimbo site," Wahl said. "We spotted the delicate bones poking out and over a few days collected all we could find. Only after cleaning some of the bones did we realize that we had found something spectacular."

Although Lori had feathers, the researchers don't believe she could actually fly, but may be another link in the chain to taking flight. Finding her small bones in the midst of everything around her was quite a feat in itself as the bones are hollow and quite fragile.