Wyoming news briefs for June 10

Cheyenne murder trial set for December

CHEYENNE — The trial of a local woman accused of killing her fiancé while their children were present has been scheduled for early December, after being reset multiple times.

Danelle Ashley Moyte is currently charged with five felonies: first-degree murder, aggravated assault and battery, and three counts of child abuse with mental injury. She pleaded not guilty to the charges last July.

Moyte’s trial is set for 9 a.m. Dec. 6. Laramie County District Court has set aside eight days for the trial, according to an order from Judge Thomas Campbell.

According to court records, the trial was originally set for Nov. 9, 2020, after Moyte’s arraignment. It was then vacated and reset to Dec. 7, 2020, then to Feb. 9, then March 9, then May 10.

The Moyte case and two other criminal cases have been “significantly delayed” by both the COVID-19 pandemic and by the five-day trial limitation laid out in the court’s previous operating plans, according to Campbell’s order.

At the time of the incident, Moyte was a Title 1 teacher at Afflerbach Elementary School in Cheyenne, according to previous reporting.

In the early hours of May 16, 2020, Moyte allegedly shot Christopher Garcia in the chest after an argument, according to court documents. Moyte and Garcia were engaged to be married, and lived together with several minor children from their previous marriages.

Three of these children, all 13 and younger, were in the home at the time of the shooting.


Man convicted in 22-year-old sex assault

GILLETTE — A man accused in a 22-year-old crime has been found guilty of one count of third-degree sexual assault, but acquitted of two other counts of third-degree sexual assault.

A jury of seven men and five women deliberated for about five hours last week after a three-day trial before convicting Jason H. Roberts, 48, of the crime.

The charges stemmed from accusations that he had sexual intercourse with an 12-year-old girl in 1999.

She had reached out to him in 2017 on social media and discussed what had happened years before, according to court documents. Those messages were provided to police.

“u were sexy and built like a lady but y were not one mentally,” he had written, according to court documents.

“The delayed reporting and thorough investigation that took place approximately 20 years after the sexual assault is incredible,” said Campbell County Attorney Mitchell H. Damsky. “I would say that the citizens of Campbell County are changing the landscape for sexual assault victims to report. It is evident that community awareness, education, and victim support in these types of cases are significant in successful outcomes.”

Sentencing will be conducted in about 60 days after a pre-sentence investigation is completed.

Third-degree sexual assault carries a maximum penalty of 15 years.


Lightning sparks five fires in one day

SUNDANCE — County firefighters found themselves stretched in several directions over the weekend when lightning strikes caused five individual fires to spark at the same time.

Fortunately, only one of the five grew to a significant size: the Seely Fire, located around ten miles northwest of Hulett. 

“It’s 425 acres and we’ll be several days getting it cleaned up,” said Doug Leis, County Fire Warden, on Monday morning. 

Of the five fires, this one grew so large due to the terrain, he explains. It did not threaten any structures, aside from an old homestead, but firefighters were able to cut the fire off before it reached the building. 

“That big fire is completely contained, we’ve just got to mop it up. It’s not controlled yet and it’s going to be days – some of that heavy fuel you’ve just got to let burn up, because it takes entirely too much water to put it out,” Leis said. 

The other four fires included the Reed Fire at around 3.5 acres, which was brought under control on Sunday; the Rock Slide Fire in the Woods Canyon area at around four acres, which was taken care of on Saturday; a small fire in New Haven that was brought under control on Sunday evening, and a small fire east of Aladdin. 

All but the Seely Fire were out by the end of the weekend.


Washakie commissioners adopt Second Amendment resolution

WORLAND — The Washakie County Commissioners passed Resolution 2021-368 during their regularly scheduled meeting June 1. 

The resolution commits the county to protecting the rights and liberties of the Second Amendment for Washakie County residents. 

The declaration from the resolution reads as follows: “Now, therefore, be it resolved that Washakie County Board of Commissioners strongly support the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America and Article 1, Section 24 of the Constitution of the State of Wyoming and that the Board strongly believe that it is an inalienable right of the citizens of Washakie County to keep and bear arms for the defense of life liberty; and now further, be it resolved to defend the rights and liberties of the citizens of Washakie County, the Washakie County Board of Commissioners hereby declares Washakie County, Wyoming a “Second Amendment County.” 

Chairman Commissioner Fred Frandson said that this decision has been worked on for approximately three to four weeks after he was approached with a petition to support Second Amendment rights in Wyoming.  

“As Washakie County Commissioners we wanted to declare our commitment to the Wyoming State Constitution and the United States Constitution,” Frandson said. 

Frandson, along with Washakie County Sheriff Steve Rakness, expressed concerns going around the county and country due to proposed regulations by the Biden administration. 

“I think that the current federal government is beginning to overstep its bounds and the people need to stand up and be heard about that stuff,” Rakness said.


Lovell rejects chickens in town

LOVELL — The chickens will not be coming to roost in Lovell any time soon with the defeat Tuesday night of the now famous ordinance that would have allowed the barnyard birds to be kept within the Lovell town limits. 

The council tabled the ordinance on second reading in May after passing it on first reading in April, when a large number of citizens weighed in on the topic, both pro and con. It was also discussed during a May 25 forum hosted by the Lovell Police Department.

But the end came quietly and quickly Tuesday with no further public input and only a handful of citizens in attendance.

After considering 10 other ordinances on the agenda Tuesday, the council took up Ordinance 1001 – Allowance of Chickens. 

After removing the ordinance from the table, town attorney Sandra Kitchen read the title and councilman Dan Anderson made a motion to approve the ordinance on second reading.

Mayor pro-tem Carol Miller, running the meeting in place of the absent mayor Tom Newman, called for a second and hearing none from council members Bob Mangus or Ray Messamer quickly declared that the ordinance had died for lack of a second.

With no second to the motion, there was no public input taken.

The defeat of the ordinance ends several months of research by the town staff and consideration by the council after the ordinance was requested by a citizen last year as a way to help families during the COVID-19 pandemic.