Special prosecutor appointed in Wiley parole case

THERMOPOLIS (WNE) — A murder case from 1990 is coming up again, the James Michael Wiley case.

Wiley was convicted in 1990 on charges of first- and second-degree murder in the deaths of his stepmother and three brothers at their home near Thermopolis and was sentenced to life in prison. He was 15 at the time of the deaths.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a juvenile sentenced to life in prison should have the opportunity for parole after serving 25 years.

Wiley has passed that point and is seeking parole under the Supreme Court ruling.

A hearing on Wiley’s request is to be held in Hot Springs County on June 26. At the request of Hot Springs County Attorney Jill Logan, county commissioners have appointed a special prosecutor to the case, Thermopolis native Joey Blonigen.

Logan and Blonigen both believe the appeal for parole should be dismissed entirely.


Cody man charged with stealing dozens of guns

POWELL (WNE) — After helping install a new furnace in a Cody woman’s home last year, a local man is alleged to have secretly returned to take dozens of the guns in her basement.

The Park County Sheriff’s Office arrested Robert “Bobby” Jackson, 45, on a felony charge of aggravated burglary last week. Jackson is alleged to have stolen roughly 34 guns from a residence on Diamond Basin Road, southwest of Cody.

He remained in jail on Wednesday, with bail set at $50,000.

Although investigators believe the guns were stolen sometime in December, the case wasn’t reported to law enforcement until April 1.

In her initial call to the sheriff’s office, the woman said she believed more than 100 firearms might be missing, department logs say, but she later put together a list indicating that 34 weapons had been taken from her late husband’s collection.

The woman mentioned to Sgt. Chad McKinney that she’d shown the collection of firearms to a pair of workers from Big Horn Heating and Air Conditioning in December, when they installed a new furnace; one of those workers was Jackson.

Jackson is quoted in court documents as saying that, “I did not think she [the homeowner] would ever notice the guns were gone because of the [cluttered] house.” He said the woman didn’t care about the firearms, McKinney recounted in his statement.

“I thanked [Jackson] for his cooperation and telling me the truth,” McKinney wrote. “Jackson was then arrested and booked into the Park County Detention Center.”


Heart Mountain summit trail closed because of bears

CODY (WNE) — Bears have emerged from hibernation with the advent of spring and warmer weather, prompting a temporary closure of the Heart Mountain summit trail.

On Monday the Nature Conservancy’s Heart Mountain Ranch Preserve announced the trail is closed due to bear activity in the vicinity.

Other activities at the preserve will continue as planned.

Bears are active in the Northern Rockies at this time of year as they emerge from their winter sleep and begin foraging for food.

“We want to take every precaution possible to prevent any conflicts between people and bears — for the safety and health of both,” Heart Mountain Ranch manager Brian Peters said.

He said staff will be monitoring the trail for signs of bears and will make a determination of when there seems to be less activity. At that time, the trail will reopen to public use.

He recommends people be bear aware at any time they are hiking the preserve and, when possible, travel in groups.

Once open, bear spray will be required for all hikers.

“We’re asking our friends, neighbors and visitors for your patience and understanding as we make these decisions, and that we all work together to ensure that both people and wildlife remain safe,” Peters said.


Program launched to help towns that lost Shopko

GREYBULL (WNE) — The National Main Street Center has launched an initiative to help the communities in northwest Wyoming that either have lost or will soon lose their Shopko stores, including Greybull, which saw its store close earlier this spring. Amy Quick, Northwest Regional Director of the Wyoming Business Council, and Bruce Morse of the Small Business Development Council swung through the Big Horn Basin earlier this week, visiting Powell and Greybull on Tuesday before stopping in Worland and Thermopolis Wednesday. Matthew Wagner, vice president of the National Main Street Center, had planned to join them, but was unable to do so.

Quick told a group of chamber and economic development leaders that their visit was simply the first step in the process. She said the plan was to gather public input and to then share the findings and recommendations with the communities.

The discussion centered on what the loss of Shopko means, from a product and service standpoint, and whether some combination of current business owners and/or entrepreneurs might be able to meet those needs.

While an in-town pharmacy is widely viewed as the top need, the loss of Shopko has also made it more difficult for local residents to purchase clothing, office supplies and personal products, all of which were among Shopko’s top sellers.

The question is, can existing businesses meet some of those needs, simply by expanding their inventories? Are there any  entrepreneurs in town who are thinking of starting a new business?

Quick said the report that’s generated would address those questions and others.


Laramie police sergeant honored for saving man’s life

LARAMIE (WNE) — For his quick thinking and persistence with CPR during a medical call in March, the Laramie Police Department awarded a Life Saving Award to LPD Sergeant Robert Austin Wednesday afternoon. On the morning of March 6, Austin and an LPD officer Justin Johnson were dispatched to a residence on McCue Street to assist an unresponsive individual. During the ceremony Wednesday, LPD Chief Dale Stalder explained the complainant who contacted emergency services had found his roommate unresponsive next to some empty pill bottles in a possible suicide attempt.

“On scene, Sgt. Austin observed a 29-year-old male convulsing in a bedroom,” Stalder said. “While awaiting (Emergency Medical Services) arrival, Sgt. Austin turned the subject onto his side and loosely held him as he continued to convulse.”

Stalder added the man then stopped breathing, at which point Austin “began chest compressions and continued these for 1 minute and 37 seconds until the arrival of EMS and (for) transport to the hospital.”


From Wyoming News Exchange newspapers