Wyoming news briefs for November 15

Man sentenced for child sex abuse

CHEYENNE — A man convicted of having sexual contact with two children in his care received prison time Tuesday during a sentencing hearing in Laramie County District Court.

Laramie County District Judge Thomas Campbell sentenced Billy Mike Carrera to two concurrent terms of five to 12 years in prison, with 40 days of credit for time served. Campbell added that, if Carrera makes parole, he should be supervised for “the longest period of time.” 

Carrera pleaded guilty, pursuant to an Alford plea in June, to two counts of felony second-degree sexual abuse of a minor, position of authority, and two counts of felony second-degree sexual abuse of a minor, guardian of victim. 

An Alford plea allows defendants to accept the consequences of a guilty plea without having to admit guilt, while also admitting the prosecution could likely prove the charges against them in a jury trial. 

Additional charges – five counts of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor, one count of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor (position of authority) and one count of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor (guardian of victim) – were dismissed at sentencing as part of the plea agreement. 

The state had agreed to cap its sentencing argument at 10 to 12 years in prison. 


Gordon signs only new law from Wyoming Legislature's special vaccine mandate session

JACKSON — Gov. Mark Gordon has signed the sole bill to emerge from the Wyoming Legislature’s special session intended to fight the Biden administration’s federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

The governor put pen to paper as he engages in a number of lawsuits against various aspects of the federal mandate: one against requirements on federal contractors and contracted employees, one against requiring vaccines in private businesses with more than 100 employees, and one against an edict that would generally require health care workers to get inoculated.

Gordon’s office was quick to highlight the legal challenges his administration is already pursuing in a Friday press release, and he was critical of the cost of the special session: $233,000.

“This bill confirms the Legislature’s support for the executive branch’s previously-expressed determination to fight federal overreach in the courts,” Gordon said in the press release. “I thank the Legislature for recognizing their distinct constitutional responsibility as appropriators in forwarding resources to support this endeavor.”

House Bill 1002, which Gordon signed, appropriates $4 million for legal challenges to federal vaccine mandates and includes a strongly worded resolution citing the legal rights of Wyoming to defy the mandate.

It also states, “no public entity shall enforce any mandate or standard of the federal government, whether emergency, temporary or permanent, that requires an employer to ensure or mandate that an employee shall receive a COVID-19 vaccination.” 

However, those provisions barring enforcement of the mandate are nullified once the federal mandate takes effect. Those provisions can, however, be enforced if a court puts a stay on the mandate or the mandate is repealed.


Man convicted of aggravated assault sentenced to at least 30 years in prison 

GILLETTE — A 30-year-old Gillette man will spend 30 to 45 years in prison for beating another man over the head with a crowbar.

The sentence for Brennan Thomas Baker will be served consecutively with previous felony convictions of two 3- to 5-year sentences for two counts of burglary.

Baker was convicted by a jury in July of aggravated assault and battery.

A sentencing enhancement for being a habitual criminal was added to the charge, increasing the possible prison time from a maximum of 10 years to up to 50 years.

Baker was considered a habitual criminal because the aggravated assault and battery is a violent felony and because he had two other felony convictions for burglary in Campbell County from 2019 cases.

A past relationship with a woman was the reason the victim thought Baker attacked him in a parking lot on South Douglas Highway on Oct. 11.

A surveillance video shows Baker waiting near the coffee shop in his car for the man to leave the shop.

When the man left and headed toward his van in the parking lot, Baker drove toward him, got out and headed at him. The man got into his van, and the video showed Baker coming up to the vehicle trying to hide something in his right hand, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

The man got out of the van and Baker reportedly raised the crowbar with both hands and swung it at the man, narrowly missing his head but hitting his arms, which the man had raised defensively. 

Baker swung at him at least five more times as the man tried to defend himself until he was able to grab the crowbar and yank it from Baker.