Restitution requested in aggravated assault case

Sublette County Sheriff's Office courtesy photo

SUBLETTE COUNTY – Ahead of the July 17 jury trial of a former Big Piney man accused of attacking another local man last year during Rendezvous, the prosecution submitted a notice to seek $43,081.08 restitution for the victim’s medical expenses.

Chett L. Whitman, 26, who is living and working in Arizona and New Mexico, is charged with one felony count of aggravated assault and battery for allegedly attacking Christopher Meeks, of Daniel.

Whitman is charged with brutally beating Meeks behind a Pinedale bar late on July 9, 2022, during Rendezvous. Off-duty EMTs helped stabilize the unconscious Meeks, who was taken to the Pinedale Medical Clinic and then life-flighted to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center’s trauma unit.

The restitution list filed April 25 by Sublette County Attorney Clayton Melinkovich shows that Meeks was awarded $25,000 from the Wyoming Division of Victim Services and personally incurred another $18,081.08 in medical expenses.

Invoices show the state grant covered intensive and emergency care and medical imaging, according to court records. The remaining $18,000 includes monthly reconstructive treatments at the Teton Valley Health Clinic in Jackson beginning in September and a July 10, 2022, invoice from the Sublette County Hospital District.

It lists emergency treatments to stabilize Meeks – blood tests, numerous drug injections, CT scans of his head and face, an emergency breathing tube and other trauma-related costs, court records show. Other expenses are an Idaho Falls ambulance and Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center.

Angry citizens and witnesses gathered at the Sublette County commissioners’ July 19, 2022, meeting to question Sheriff KC Lehr about Whitman’s not being in custody. He was arrested hours later. Then-Circuit Court Judge Curt Haws set Whitman’s bond at $50,000 surety, which he met and was released.

Whitman was not arraigned in 9th District Court until Oct. 27, when he pleaded not guilty before former Judge Marv Tyler, who allowed Whitman to work and travel between Arizona and New Mexico. His trial was set for May 8.

In 2014, Whitman was convicted of felony reckless endangering and stalking and served probation with a revocation on record.

Whitman pleaded not guilty to the single charge and waived his right to a speedy trial, which 9th District Court Judge Kate McKay rescheduled for July 17 after Whitman fired his original attorney, Rives White, and hired Dave McCarthy of Rawlins.

Judge McKay would not allow White to withdraw until Whitman hired another attorney. Whitman and McCarthy both appeared via videoconference at the April 13 conference; the defense attorney requested more time to prepare a defense.

April 13, Whitman called in from a parked pickup truck near traffic and his connection was cut off while McCarthy related his client should not be held liable for another court delay, which Judge McKay weighed in the balance.

It became a motions hearing and scheduling conference as the judge considered whether or not to reschedule the pretrial conference and jury trial. Melinkovich argued that the May 8 trial date was most convenient for many witnesses and Meeks himself.

“I will make it very clear – I would like him to appear in person for the (new) pretrial conference,” Judge McKay told
Whitman’s new pretrial conference is set for June 22 at 2:30 p.m. and his jury trial is July 17