NEWS BRIEFS for Thursday, March 7, 2019

From Wyoming News Exchange newspapers

Ten Sleep man bound over for trial in bar shooting case

WORLAND (WNE) — A Ten Sleep man held on $500,000 cash bond in Basin on three felony counts after a shooting incident on Feb. 3 at the HiWay Bar and Café in Manderson has been bound over for a jury trial in Fifth Judicial District Court. 

Michael Duane Verry, 70, was arrested in Billings, Mont., on Feb. 21, following his release from a Billings hospital. He is currently charged with one count of attempted first-degree murder, one count of attempted second-degree murder and one count of aggravated assault and battery. 

According to an earlier interview with Big Horn County Sheriff Ken Blackburn and Deputy Craig Shidler, shortly after 10 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 3, Verry opened fire on the bartender and owner of the HiWay Bar and Café in Manderson. 

No one was injured and Verry escaped. 

A passerby on Highway 31 located Verry’s 2002 Ford ¾ ton pickup off the side of the road on Monday, Feb. 4. 

Verry had allegedly rolled the vehicle at milepost 13 on Wyoming Highway 31. Verry was located underneath of the pickup with his right hand and arm pinned underneath. 

In court on Monday in front of Magistrate Randy Royal, Big Horn County Attorney Marcia Bean argued the state’s case to find probable cause for the first-degree attempted murder charge.

Without hesitation, Judge Royal declared the court found probable cause for all of the charges, and bound the case over to the district court, date to be determined. 

In the meantime, Judge Royal also denied a reduction in bond, holding Verry on the original $500,000 cash bond pending trial.

Lovell sugar beet season ends with record

LOVELL (WNE) — It was a shorter campaign season this year, but no less productive. The Western Sugar campaign ended last month after 160 days of production. While more brief than the average of 180 days of most years, plant manager Shannon Ellis said, that brevity was allowed by a superior beet harvest that had a record high sugar content and kept their quality through the temperature changes of the season.

“Because we processed well, it was one of the shortest campaigns that we had in years,” Ellis said.

The tonnage of beets processed remains the same as in years past, with the Lovell factory processing 435,000 tons of beets throughout the campaign.

Western Sugar reported that the sugar content of the beets started off high, with beets averaging just over 18 percent sugar content in October. That number has dwindled a small amount in the late season, but the final beets processed had a sugar content of just under 18 percent, still making it a record-breaking crop for the area. The last three years, Ellis said, sugar content was measured at 16.5 percent.

“It certainly ranks as one of the better ones,” Ellis said. “We’ve certainly had better campaigns, but it’s definitely a good one.” 

The plant is a cooperative owned by farmers. During the campaign, which starts as early as September, it operates 24/7 to process the beets into sugar. 

Man sentenced to prison in vehicular homicide case

GREYBULL (WNE) — Emmanuel Shuman appeared on Feb. 26 before Judge Bobbi Overfield in the Big Horn County Fifth Judicial Court to close the chapter in a vehicular homicide case that has been open since 2017.

The judge sentenced Shuman to nine to 12 years in the Wyoming State Penitentiary. She also revoked his probation from a prior conviction in a 2015 case where Shuman was found guilty of aggravated assault and robbery. Shuman will now have to serve the five to 10 years for aggravated assault and five to 12 years for robbery. 

Each sentence will be served concurrently and he was given credit for time served. He will also have to pay court costs and fees.

The case started on May 30, 2017, when Shuman,Letticia Zubia, MacKenzie McDonald and Dakota Vollan were involved in a wreck on Orchard Bench Road. Shuman was the driver

and Zubia was in the front passenger seat. They had been consuming alcohol.

Zubia suffered significant head trauma and was lifeflighted to Billings. She died on June 7 from the injuries sustained in the crash.

Shuman’s blood alcohol level was 0.2, nearly three times the legal limit.

On Dec. 4, 2018, Shuman changed his plea to no contest.

Shuman made no statement to the court.

Rachel Zubia, the victim’s mother, spoke to Shuman and the court. She said it was the hardest thing to be going through.

She said she did not agree with the plea agreement.

“You reap what you sow,” she said to Shuman.

“God will judge me,” he replied.

Taco John’s celebrates 50 years in business

CHEYENNE (WNE) – Owners of a Cheyenne-based fast-food restaurant chain are celebrating 50 years of offering their trademark “Tex-Mex”-style food this month.

During those five decades, Taco John’s has expanded to more than half the country. But the company’s current leader says its Wyoming roots remain strong.

John Turner founded Taco John’s with the assistance of Cheyenne real-estate broker James Woodson and travel trailer manufacturer Harold Holmes in the summer of 1968. Holmes converted one of his campers into a food trailer called Taco House to serve Cheyenne Frontier Days visitors that year.

“Holmes was able to build that trailer and get it on the lot where our Carey Avenue store stands today,” Taco John’s President and CEO Jim Creel said during an interview this week.

The endeavor was successful enough that Woodson and Holmes bought the franchise rights in 1969, ultimately honoring Turner with the name Taco John’s.

Now, there are nearly 400 Taco John’s restaurant in 26 states. Operators even trademarked the widely celebrated Taco Tuesday in 1989.

Before he was promoted to CEO in 2016, Creel provided consulting services for Taco John’s during his time with McGladrey (now MHP, LLP). He then served as vice president and chief financial officer.

“One day (former CEO) Barry Sims asked if I had considered leaving public accounting, and I said, ‘Not really,’” Creel said. “I told him to make me an offer, and he said I didn’t have to wear a tie. The rest is history.”