Wyoming news briefs for July 26


Man sentenced to prison in wife’s shooting death

ROCK SPRINGS — Jason Lee Fletcher has been sentenced to eight to 14 years in prison in the shooting death of his wife Lena Fletcher on June 29, 2020, at their home in Clearview Acres. 

He appeared before Judge Richard Lavery for the July 19 argued sentencing hearing. In Wyoming, involuntary manslaughter is a felony punishable by imprisonment for up to 20 years. The prosecution argued for the maximum penalty, and the defense recommended a suspended five- to seven-year sentence with supervised probation including the possibility of a program including substance abuse treatment at the Casper Reentry Center. 

In announcing the sentence, Judge Lavery said that probation was not warranted and a period of incarceration was appropriate. 

Fletcher, 46, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter during a jury trial in Sweetwater County Third District Court in April. He claimed that his wife accidentally shot herself, but prosecuting attorneys said the evidence told “a different story” — that Lena Fletcher could not have done it. The jury agreed. 

During final sentencing arguments, Sweetwater County Attorney Dan Erramouspe said he knew that Lena Fletcher was loved. He said that while people talked about what she wanted, “I can tell you Lena wanted to be alive.” 

She had defensive wounds in her hand, and that means you want to live, he said. 

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Camper fined for sloppy food storage

JACKSON — An Idaho woman whose carelessness with food at a Grand Teton National Park campsite helped put a young grizzly bear’s life in jeopardy must pay more than $5,800 in restitution.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark L. Carman in Mammoth Hot Springs handed down the sentence Tuesday. In addition to paying $5,826.99 for the misdemeanor offense of improper food storage, Belinda J. Arvidson will serve four years of unsupervised release.

The grizzly involved in the incident is No. 1028, believed, but not confirmed, to be the offspring of one of the park’s star bears, 610. Earlier this summer, the 2 1/2-year-old was relocated across Jackson Lake after being fed by visitors and getting into unattended trash and beverages.

In Arvidson’s case, a press release from acting U.S. Attorney L. Robert Murray said she “failed to properly store garbage and beverages resulting in a grizzly bear receiving a food reward.”

People camping in the area took photos and videos of the bear rummaging through trash and other food items at Arvidson’s campsite, the press release said. The site had signs about bears and proper food storage as well as bear boxes for storing food and other items.

“It could pose a danger to humans if the bear were to have another similar incident, and euthanizing the bear may become necessary,” the release said.

The dollar figure to be paid by Arvidson covers the National Park Service’s costs for the operation, including the cost of a GPS collar to track the bear’s movement.

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Man killed in tractor rollover

RIVERTON — A 58-year-old Lander man died Thursday afternoon in an apparent accident, when his tractor rolled onto him. 

The Fremont County Coroner’s Office has declined to identify the man until Monday at the earliest, according to chief deputy coroner Erin Ivie. 

She was at the scene along with the newly appointed Fremont County Coroner Larry DeGraw.

The incident was reported at 2:22 Thursday afternoon from Mortimore Lane in Lander. 

Ivie told The Ranger on Friday that the incident is under investigation, but “no autopsy is warranted in this case.” 

Fremont County Undersheriff Mike Hutchison said the man was hauling a load of hay on a trailer, using a tractor. 

“It appears that as he went down an incline, or was on an incline of some kind, the trailer pushed the rear end of the tractor sideways, causing it to tip over, and he was pinned underneath.” 

The trailer bore “a lot of weight,” he said. 

The reporting party “came across” the man and called emergency personnel immediately. Responders confirmed that the man had died at the scene.

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Democratic Party head named Sweetwater treasurer

ROCK SPRINGS — A 4-1 vote appointed Joe Barbuto to serve as the Sweetwater County treasurer. 

The Sweetwater County Commission made the appointment on Tuesday. He was sworn in and started work on Wednesday. 

Following Treasurer Robb Slaughter’s resignation, the Sweetwater County Democratic Party put forward three nominees: Barbuto, Meghan Jensen, and Mike Masterson. 

Commissioners Roy Lloyd, Jeff Smith, Mary Thoman and Chairman Randal Wendling voted for Barbuto’s appointment. Commission Lauren Schoenfeld voted against the measure.

Prior to the appointment, Barbuto told the commissioners that if he was elected, he plans to run for the position in 2022. 

Barbuto said he started talking with Slaughter in May to get a feel for the job. He said he had management and leadership experience through his work in Wyoming politics and working at nonprofits.

Barbuto said Slaughter had told him that the Treasurer’s Office felt like a family, and it is his goal to continue that tradition and the high level of service it is known for.

Barbuto served in the Wyoming House of Representatives from 2009 until 2013 and was in April was elected to his third term as chairman of the Wyoming Democratic Party.

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