NEWS BRIEFS for Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019


Man who died in Fremont jail killed self, coroner says

RIVERTON (WNE) — The 31-year-old man found dead this summer in his cell at the Fremont County Detention Center in Lander killed himself, according to a case docket from the Fremont County Coroner’s Office.

Ty W. Wolfname, 31, of Fremont County, died Aug. 31 of asphyxia due to self-inflicted hanging, the couty coroner’s docket states. 

The Fremont County Sheriff’s Office extended condolences to Wolfname’s family and friends in a press release Thursday, noting that the “tragic event” also “has had a profound effect on our staff.” 

FCSO officials noted that the agency is “committed to the operation of a safe and secure detention facility, which includes professional mental health services for inmates, as well as training for staff to identify mental health issues.” 

Officials also said “Wolfname exhibited no warning signs of his impending actions, nor did he reach out to our detention staff for assistance with any mental health concerns prior to taking his own life.”

FCSO records indicate the FCCO responded to Wolfname’s death just before 3 p.m. Aug. 31. Wolfname’s time of death is listed as 1:30 p.m. Aug. 31 – plus or minus one hour. 

There was no relevant toxicology listed on the case docket.

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Massage business may lose license over alleged assault

CHEYENNE (WNE) – A Cheyenne massage parlor may lose its business license over allegations that a male masseuse sexually assaulted two female customers during a massage.

The Cheyenne City Council held a special business license hearing Tuesday evening on China Spa. The hearing didn’t reach a conclusion Tuesday. It was expected to continue Thursday.

Earlier this year, Mayor Marian Orr issued a temporary emergency suspension of China Spa’s business license due to the allegations. The current hearing is focused on whether China Spa will have its business license permanently revoked.

In the meantime, China Spa was issued a temporary business license, with stipulations, pending the results of the City Council hearing.

During Tuesday’s hearing, the two alleged victims – identified as Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 – testified, along with Cheyenne Police Department Officer James Eddy and Detective Zack Johnson.

During the alleged victims’ testimony, each described how the massage started out as normal, but then the masseuse touched their genitals during the massage and exposed their breasts. Don Miller, the attorney representing China Spa, brought up the fact that the two women are now engaged in a civil lawsuit against China Spa.

No criminal charges are currently pending against the individual accused of sexually assaulting two female patrons. Charges were filed earlier this summer, but they were dismissed by the Laramie County District Attorney’s Office, according to the hearing proceedings. It’s unclear at this time if those charges will be refiled.

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Girlfriend charged as accessory in stabbing

GILLETTE (WNE) — The girlfriend of a man charged with attempted second-degree murder faces up to three years in prison for allegedly helping him hide from police and drive to Casper.

Cheyenne L. Brock, 25, has been charged with accessory after the fact for her alleged efforts to help Joseph Cruzen, who is accused of stabbing his ex-wife in the throat Oct. 3.

Cruzen was bound over to District Court on Oct. 18 on charges of attempted second-degree murder, kidnapping, interfering with a 911 call and domestic assault.

When police were called at 2 a.m. Oct. 3 about the stabbing, officers went to Cruzen’s house to find him, which was only minutes after the original 911 call. No one was there and his truck was gone, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

At about 11 a.m., officers received a call from Casper Police that Cruzen was headed there to visit his sister. He was arrested 40 minutes later and was with Brock — his girlfriend of two months — and her two children in her vehicle.

On Oct. 3, police found his estranged wife hysterical and bleeding from the base of the throat from a 1-inch stab wound, saying “he stabbed me, he stabbed me.”

She told police that she’d gone to Cruzen’s mobile home after she got off work at his request because he wanted to mend their relationship. 

They reportedly argued and fought physically before he pulled out a knife, using it to cut his arm and making suicidal statements. When she tried to leave, he allegedly stabbed her, according to court documents.

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Roundup nets 558 wild horses

WORLAND (WNE) — Through Tuesday evening, 558 wild horses in the Fifteen Mile Herd Management Area had been gathered with 261 shipped to other facilities for treatment or to be prepared for adoption.

The Bureau of Land Management scheduled the gather as part of the HMA’s management plan. 

According to a BLM press release, the gather operation is in line with the BLM’s commitment to maintaining healthy wild horses on healthy, productive public rangelands. 

The Fifteenmile HMA is located approximately 35 miles northwest of Worland, in Washakie, Big Horn and Park counties. Based on recent aerial surveys, the BLM estimates that the HMA’s population is approximately 700 horses, while the appropriate management level (AML) is 100–230 horses. 

The objective for the gather, from the BLM Worland Field Office, was to remove approximately 600 wild horses to return the population to the low range of the AML. 

Wild horses that are removed will be available for adoption to qualified applicants through the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program. Animals not adopted will be cared for in off-range pastures, where they retain their “wild” status and protection under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burro Act, according to the release. 

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Woman convicted in accident death

SUNDANCE (WNE) — Lesley Raber has been found not guilty of aggravated homicide by vehicle but guilty of the lesser charges of homicide by vehicle and improperly making a left hand turn.

The jury was asked to decide based on the evidence: was Raber driving recklessly while drunk, causing the death of 54-year-old Nancy Robison of Indiana? Or was it a terrible accident, rather than a crime?

Deputy County Attorney Linda Black, for the prosecution, argued that Raber’s blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.2 percent caused her to act recklessly, directly leading to Robison’s death.

Devon Petersen and Tom Fleener of Fleener Petersen Law, however, made the case that witness statements of Raber’s apparent sobriety were more reliable than the blood work. Without conclusive proof of her blood alcohol content, they said, the state could not prove her guilty of a crime.

The cause of the crash is undisputed, said Black. Raber stopped at the intersection of Hwy 212, then attempted to turn out “right in front of Ms. Robison’s trike”.

After deliberating for several hours, the jury found Raber not guilty of two counts of aggravated homicide by vehicle (one DUI, one reckless) but guilty of the misdemeanor crime of homicide by vehicle, which carries a maximum penalty of one year of jail time. She was also found guilty of improperly turning left at an intersection.

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Man sentenced on sexual exploitation conviction

JACKSON (WNE) — After violating a probation requirement that he not interact with minors, a 19-year-old Jackson man will serve up to six years in prison for sexual exploitation of children.

Earlier this year Zach Ladnier, who has lived in Teton County since he was 16, reached a plea agreement that spared him the sexual exploitation conviction and registration as a sex offender. But after law enforcement officers caught him with minors twice in one week this past summer, Teton County District Court Judge Timothy Day had no trouble with his verdict Wednesday.

“This is going to be short,” Day said. “You only get so many do-overs, Mr. Ladnier. I’m sorry you put yourself in this position, I’m sorry you put the court in this position, and I’m sorry you put all the victims in the sad place that they are.”

Ladnier, originally of Alabama, was arrested in December following a months-long investigation that uncovered photos on his phone that “appeared to be underage children in sexually explicit situations,” according to court records. Police also found methamphetamine and marijuana edibles during his arrest.

For those offenses, he was sentenced in May to serve six months in Teton County Jail. He received credit for the time he had already served and got out a few weeks later. 

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Kanye West buys lot in Cody

CODY (WNE) — Celebrity Kanye West has expanded his property ownership in Cody with the purchase of a business lot and building on Cody’s east side.

The recent buyer of Monster Lake Ranch outside of Cody is not only a Grammy-winning recording artist, he’s a Yeezy brand fashion designer and entrepreneur.

According to Forbes, his Adidas Yeezy label is expected to hit $1.5 billion in sales by the end of 2019.

How far his entrepreneurship ventures extend to Cody is yet to be seen. But West has purchased the Mountain Equipment property across the road from Fremont Motors where a temporary storage shed is set to go up as soon as possible.

The City of Cody Planning and Zoning Board on Tuesday approved site plans for a tan-colored, 4,800-square-foot prefabricated structure on a temporary basis.

“It’s intended to be in place for less than six months,” Todd Stowell, city planner, said.

He said the structure is for temporary storage of materials and merchandise related to apparel and music businesses that eventually will be conducted from a building on the property.

Need a repeat of anything?  Email me at [email protected] or call me at (307) 630-4078.

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