CHEYENNE – The suspect in the fatal shooting Friday night at the Lariat Motel had his initial appearance Thursday afternoon in Laramie County Circuit Court.
Benjamin Ketcham, 31, of Cheyenne is being charged with second-degree murder, and his bond is set at $250,000. He will hire his own attorney, and his preliminary hearing is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. June 5.
The Wyoming Tribune Eagle wasn’t allowed in the courtroom during Ketcham’s initial appearance. The press room at circuit court didn’t have working audio, so the reporter couldn’t hear the court proceedings and had to sit in the hallway during the hearing.
Public access attorney Bruce Moats said he will file a motion with the court to make sure media are allowed access to the preliminary hearing.
“There’s a constitutional right on behalf of the public and the media to attend court proceedings,” Moats said, “as well as access to court records under Wyoming Supreme Court case law.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic could be a reason to exclude the public, it makes it more important for the media to be there, Moats said. The Wyoming Supreme Court has recognized the media as the “eyes and ears of the public,” he said.
Cheyenne Police Department officers responded to the Lariat Motel due to a disturbance around 11:20 p.m. Friday, according to court documents. Officers came in contact with Sarah Glover, who said she saw her boyfriend, Ketcham, shoot Aaron Briggs, 36, of Cheyenne with a BB gun after the two got into an argument.
After he shot Briggs, Ketcham ran from the motel room headed north. Briggs and Glover’s father, Steven Glover, ran south, according to court documents. Sarah Glover allowed officers into the hotel room, and police found a .22-caliber used shell casing near the corner of the bed.
Steven Glover also was in the room during the argument, but he then left the motel room. As he was leaving the motel room, he heard a gunshot, according to court documents. When he heard the sound, he turned around and saw Briggs clutching his chest, and Ketcham lying on the bed, pointing a gun at Briggs.
Around the same time police were dispatched to the motel, there was a call for service to the Lamp Lounge, according to court documents. Briggs had wandered into the bar and was bleeding from his chest. He collapsed in the bar and was taken to Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, where he later died.
CRMC staff discovered a small bullet hole in Briggs’ chest, and after studying X-rays, they said they thought he was shot by a .22-caliber gun.
Cheyenne Police said they can’t release how Ketcham was taken into police custody at this time.