NEWS BRIEFS for Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020

Man sentenced to life in mother’s murder

DOUGLAS (WNE) — A Glenrock man charged with killing his mother in August 2018 in order to steal her credit card and buy alcohol has been sentenced to life after pleading guilty to murder in the first degree. 

Adam Ray Trujillo, 47, was charged with murder and aggravated robbery Aug. 30, 2018, in Converse County Circuit Court. His preliminary trial was continued Sept. 4 of the same year after his attorney, Eric Palen, filed a motion for a competency evaluation which was later completed at the Wyoming State Hospital in Evanston. 

Following the evaluation, Trujillo appeared at a hearing in December 2019, during which he changed his plea to guilty as a result of a plea agreement. The charge of aggravated robbery was dismissed as per the agreement. 

Trujillo appeared before Eighth Judicial District Court Judge Scott Peasley Jan. 23, when he was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole. 

On Aug. 27, 2018, Converse County Investigator Eric Koss arrived at Bean’s Miller Road home near Glenrock, where he was told that there was a female body in the house that had been dead for at least a few days. 

Investigators then focused on her son, who allegedly confessed. Trujillo told them that he had killed his mother, Connie Bean, so he could take her credit card to buy alcohol, which led to the aggravated robbery charge, Koss wrote in a court affidavit.

Evidence gathered at the scene “substantially corroborates Trujillo’s version of events,” Koss told the court.


Man imprisoned on domestic violence ordered to pay restitution

JACKSON (WNE) — Five months after being sentenced to prison for domestic abuse, Mathew Seals has agreed to pay one of his victims restitution.

During a hearing Friday in Teton County District Court, the judge ordered Seals to pay $75,000 to cover the victim’s medical expenses she endured from his physical violence.

The amount was agreed upon by the victim, Teton County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Clark Allan, Seals and his attorney Elisabeth Trefonas after reviewing the victim’s receipts.

“Mr. Seals, the court needs to make a finding that you have the ability to pay the restitution,” 9th Judicial District Judge Timothy Day said. “As soon as the order is entered it becomes a judgment of law. You need to be capable of paying it but not in one fell swoop. Do you agree that you’re able bodied and capable of employment and capable of paying that?”

“Yes, your honor,” Seals said.

In July a jury convicted Seals of eight of the nine domestic violence-related counts he was facing. He then pleaded guilty to another count of felony aggravated assault in a second case involving another victim.

The abuse started in 2011 and continued until 2017, records show.

Despite pleading with Judge Day for another chance at freedom, Seals was sentenced in September to 71/2 to 10 years in prison.


Man sentenced to prison in sex abuse of minor

LARAMIE (WNE) — A 22-year-old Laramie man was sentenced to 13-15 years imprisonment this week after being convicted of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor.

In November, Zachary Skagen took an Alford plea, a legal term meaning the defendant retains his assertion of innocence while pleading guilty because he acknowledges a jury is likely to convict him.

Skagen was charged with the crime for inflicting penetrative sexual abuse on a 9-year-old girl during at least three separate incidences in July 2018.

In crafting a sentence, Albany County district court Judge Tori Kricken sided entirely with the recommendation of prosecutors, who recommended the 13-15 year sentence.

“We need to send a message to the community that we’re not going to tolerate this behavior and this is going to be the consequence if you conduct yourself in this manner,” said prosecutor Becky Farley, who noted that Skagen “held a position of power over the victim.”

Zachary Skagen was arrested in November 2018 but until Tuesday, he had been out on a partial house arrest after a $25,000 cash bond was posted.

A Laramie Police Department officer conducted an interview with the victim in October 2018 and Zachary Skagen later corroborated the details of the sex abuse.

The first incident of abuse took place in Las Vegas, while the rest occurred in Laramie, according to court documents.


Devils Tower to get upgrades

GILLETTE (WNE) — The steep hike leading up to the first overlook at Devils Tower has prevented some people from taking a more in-depth look at the nation's first national monument. 

The National Park Service will soon begin work on about $3.9 million in facility and trail accessibility improvements to give some people a chance to get a closer look. 

Once the work is done, visitors will be able to walk a trail that is accessible up to the first overlook. Now, the trail is very steep and is not accessible for those in wheelchairs or have physical limitations, said Nick Myers, chief of interpretation at Devils Tower.

Devils Tower is one of several sites to be chosen by the Parks Service to undergo comprehensive accessibility improvements through the Targeted Accessibility Improvement Program.

Access to the visitor’s center and trail to the base of the Tower will be improved and brought up to federal accessibility laws and regulations. The work also will consist of upgrades to the parking lots and walkways, the addition of accessible restrooms and a redesign of visitor center exhibits and signs along the Tower's trail, according to the National Park Service.

Funding for the $3.9 million work had been saved and comes from a myriad of sources, including a portion of the park's entrance fees.

"It's been a long time planned and a long time coming to make sure that all these funding sources came together for us," Myers said.