Conviction overturned in 2012 robbery

SHERIDAN — The Wyoming Supreme Court on Tuesday announced its decision to overturn the conviction of Miranda Mraz, who was found guilty by a jury in 2012 of stealing from the Sheridan Eagles Club.

The members of the Supreme Court concluded that the evidence was insufficient to support a guilty verdict and while Mraz had the opportunity to steal, that is not by itself enough evidence to support a conviction.

The Sheridan County Attorney’s Office charged Mraz with larceny by bailee in 2012. It was reported that on April 21 of that year, Mraz called 911, reporting that she was opening the bar at the Eagles where she worked as a bartender when someone robbed the bar and attempted to cut her face.

While Mraz had told officials she arrived at work at approximately 10:45 a.m. that day, she did not mention that she had also been at the club just before that time. Surveillance videos showed her car coming and going and system history showed her access code for the club’s security had also been turned off, back on, then off again that morning.

Police and county attorneys argued that the fact that Mraz failed to tell police of her first entrance into the club that morning showed an attempt to evade being caught. Mraz’s attorneys, though, argued “law enforcement made a ‘rush to judgment’ by deciding she had taken the money from the safe without properly investigating other possibilities.”

Mraz’s defense also pointed out that others also had access to the safe and its contents, the bartender on duty the night before had heard noises upstairs in the building and suspected someone may have been hiding in the building that night.

The Supreme Court’s decision points out that there was no direct evidence that Mraz committed the theft. The stolen property was never found, she had no ill will toward her employer or fellow employees and made no attempt to flee after the incident.

“When combined with the lack of any evidence of motive, attempt to avoid apprehension by law enforcement, ill will or physical evidence linking Ms. Mraz with the stolen property, the evidence was not sufficient under Wyoming law to support the verdict,” the decision states.

The court reversed the conviction and remanded the case with instructions to enter a judgment of acquittal.

While Mraz’s conviction in this case has been overturned, she was charged last week with six new counts of felony forgery and one count of misdemeanor theft for allegedly altering customer receipts at the Firewater Bar and Grill on North Main Street.

 

About

Kristen Czaban

Kristen Czaban joined The Sheridan Press staff in 2008 and covered beats including local government, cops and courts and the energy industry. In 2012, she was promoted and now serves as the managing editor for The Press. Czaban has a journalism degree from Northwestern University.

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