‘Lifelong burglar’ receives up to 8 years in prison

SHERIDAN — A man with an extensive criminal history will face up to eight years in prison for Sheridan County burglaries.

Fred Stidham, in conjunction with John Cotton, burglarized and caused property damage to three cabins in the Bighorn Mountains between Sept. 20 and 30, 2017.

Cotton received probation on his convictions last week in 4th Judicial District Court. Stidham, however, carries a significant criminal history in multiple states. The 45-year-old man has been incarcerated on more than 20 felony convictions for nearly 28 years of his life. He was on parole for another felony conviction for only nine months before committing burglary in Sheridan County.

Sheridan County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Christopher LaRosa said Stidham is a “lifelong burglar” and “needs to be institutionalized as long as possible.” LaRosa recommended a six- to eight-year prison sentence for the two counts of burglary, foregoing the plea agreement.

While in custody of the Sheridan County Detention Center, Stidham fought with another inmate. Because of this, the state had reason to rescind its participation in the plea agreement and recommend an alternative.

After hearing a list of former criminal convictions of the defendant, Judge John Fenn said Stidham was not an appropriate candidate for probation and sentenced the man to two prison sentences of six to eight years each for counts one and two of burglary.

Those sentences will run concurrently. The third count will be dismissed, but the judge ordered Stidham to pay full restitution costs for all three counts. Stidham will share the restitution costs totaling $1,285.80 with Cotton.

Man injuring police officer will serve probation

SHERIDAN — A man suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder received a deferred prosecution in 4th Judicial District Court Thursday for causing bodily harm to a local law enforcement officer during an altercation in October 2016.

Nicholas Allen Preslar served in active military duty in Iraq and Afghanistan prior to receiving services at the Sheridan Veterans Affairs Health Care System.

Preslar recently received a PTSD diagnosis and will complete the COD — co-occurring disorders relating to mental health and substance abuse — program in May.

Because of his service, the state asked the court to accept the plea agreement of a deferred prosecution on one count of felony interference with a police officer with a suggestion of a three- to six-year probation period. For count two, property destruction, the state asked for a 120-day prison sentence suspended for six months of probation.

The 31-year-old man pleaded no contest in a change of plea hearing earlier this year. Defense counsel told the judge Preslar has been in a domiciliary program at the Sheridan VA and hopes to move back to the Lander/Riverton area and continue services.

Preslar apologized to the court and to John King, the officer injured in the altercation, who was not present in court Thursday.

Preslar said he intends to complete school by utilizing the GI Bill.

The court accepted the terms of the plea agreement.