TORRINGTON – Sean Pettus was denied the chance to change his plea of no contest to second-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison on Nov. 19.
Pettus entered his no contest plea on Aug. 23 in District Court, where he also pleaded guilty to first-degree arson, felony theft and two counts of burglary.
Pettus received a sentence of 5-10 years for both counts of burglary, another 5-10 years for felony theft and 14-20 years in prison for first-degree arson, all to be served consecutively after life in prison.
In April of this year, Torrington police officers found the body of Madison Cook, Pettus’s girlfriend, in Pettus and Cook’s shared apartment. Her body had been placed in between the mattress and wall in their bedroom. A preliminary autopsy report revealed Cook had died as a result of stabbing and asphyxiation.
On the morning of April 20, 2021, Pettus set fire to his tattoo parlor, BadDreams & Robots. After the fire, Pettus went to Smoker Friendly, where he left his gasoline-soaked sweatshirt and stole a bottle of Jack Daniel’s whiskey.
Later that same day, officers responded to a call from a Torrington woman saying her car had been stolen. Officers later found the car with Pettus inside at the south end of Pioneer Park. Pettus was arrested April 20, 2021.
The no contest plea was part of a plea agreement between Pettus and the State of Wyoming, where the State agreed to amend the murder charge from first-degree murder to second-degree. First-degree murder is any intentional murder that has been premeditated with malice and carries the possibility of the death penalty. Second-degree murder is not premeditated and may have been intended to harm rather than kill. The maximum penalty for second-degree murder is life in prison.
On Oct. 8, 2021, Pettus filed to withdraw his no contest plea. Pettus wrote a letter to Judge Korell to accompany the handwritten motion, explaining why he wanted to withdraw his plea.
At the time of the plea agreement, public defenders Eric Palin and David Macdonald represented Pettus. On Oct. 14, a motion from Palin to withdraw as Pettus’ counsel was filed with the District Court after Pettus requested a new public defender, claiming he had not been advised of his rights to an appeal. Senior Assistant Public Defender Dylan Rosalez replaced Palin.