Handy remains at large
SUBLETTE COUNTY – A man who spent many months in the Sublette County jail walked away from an inmate forestry work crew on June 5 in Weston County.
John E. Handy’s 5- to 7-year prison sentence was reinstated in Pinedale’s 9th District Court in September 2022 after he violated unsupervised probation for a suspended felony marijuana delivery conviction.
He was then transported to Torrington for processing, according to Sgt. Travis Bingham.
Handy escaped from the medium-security Wyoming Honor and Conservation Camp in Newcastle by walking away, according to the Wyoming Department of Corrections.
“On the morning of June 5, 2023, three Forestry Work Details left the Wyoming Honor Conservation Camp (WHCC), two details had 10 inmates and a supervisor each and one detail had five inmates and a supervisor to work a forestry work site east of the facility,” the DOC announced.
“At approximately 2:30 p.m. (June 5) the work detail supervisor realized Inmate John E. Handy was not where he was required to be. An effort was made to locate him, without success. At approximately 3 p.m. the work detail supervisor contacted the facility and reported Inmate Handy was not with his assigned work detail at which point escape procedures were initiated.
Inmate Handy remains at large.
“Presently, there is a multi-agency effort underway that includes local law enforcement, WDOC staff and tracking teams to recover this individual.”
Handy had accumulated a total of 508 days of credit in custody here – well more than a year – when his convoluted case came to a close last year.
Handy’s courtroom saga here began in July 2020 when he was charged with felony delivery of THC marijuana, felony possession with intent to deliver and felony conspiracy to commit a controlled substance offense, as well as a misdemeanor possession charge.
Handy brought THC wax or oil dabs from Colorado to sell in Pinedale in 2019 and 2020, records show.
He was arrested Jan. 27, 2021, and pleaded not guilty in Sublette County Circuit Court, where Handy told Judge Curt Haws he was not subject to man’s laws, only those of God. Judge Haws said the issue was whether or not Handy could understand he broke government laws and could participate in his own defense.
He set bail at $20,000 cash only, which Handy could not meet.
Sublette County Attorney Mike Crosson and public defender Rachel Weksler agreed Handy should undertake a mental evaluation in Pinedale. The judge ordered an “expeditious” hearing to not keep Handy in custody for too long.
“I don’t mind, actually,” Handy had stated. “I’ve got nothing out there. You can just keep me here forever.”
Judge Haws replied, “Well, we are not going to do that.”
Handy eventually appeared in 9th District Court before Judge Marv Tyler, who accepted a plea agreement (after further attempts at evaluation, COVID delays and Handy’s silence at hearings). One felony was dropped and his trial was set once for July 19, 2021, but Handy waived a speedy trial, remaining in custody.
Handy pleaded no contest to one felony and was sentenced to 5 to 7 years in prison, suspended for a 30-day jail sentence and three years of unsupervised probation. He received credit for 170 days’ incarceration and was ordered to undergo substance abuse treatment.
After his release to probation, however, a “very paranoid” Handy returned to Pinedale on Oct. 12, 2021, and called dispatchers to say snipers were trying to shoot him. He was hiding in his truck outside the Sublette County Detention Center, where a deputy arrested him for misdemeanor meth possession.
Handy’s prior possession convictions led to a new enhanced felony charge in 9th District Court.
On Jan. 27, 2022, Handy, deemed to be capable of participating in his own defense, appeared before Judge Tyler after his prior initial probation revocation hearing was vacated for a mental evaluation. He answered Judge Tyler’s questions in “a language other than English” or not at all, records show.
Some charges were dropped along the way, court records show.
Judge Tyler reinstated Handy’s incarceration “immediately” after Handy admitted in August 2022 to violating his unsupervised probation. This time around, he had 508 days of pre-sentence incarceration.
Late last year Handy appealed for a sentence reduction, writing that he “is a changed person and that (he) seeks a second chance.”
Judge Mate McKay denied the motion on Feb. 9.