Man sentenced to prison in wife’s shooting death

ROCK SPRINGS (WNE) – 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.

Camper fined $5,8000 for sloppy food storage endangering bear

JACKSON (WNE) – 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.

Lander man killed after his tractor rolls over onto him

RIVERTON (WNE) – 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.

Democratic Party head named Sweetwater treasurer

ROCK SPRINGS (WNE) – 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.

Saw Mill Fire on Camp Guernsey Joint Training Center contained

GUERNSEY (WNE) –- The combined efforts of multiple agencies have led to 100% containment of the Saw Mill Fire on Friday, July 23. 

The fire was initially reported on July 16 in the impact area in the North Training areas of Camp Guernsey Joint Training Center. The fire impacted approximately 1,300 acres of the north training area and 150 acres of private land. Camp Guernsey officials have been in contact with the landowner. 

Multiple resources, personnel, and agencies answered the call to support the effort. Teams from Camp Guernsey, Hartville, Guernsey, Guernsey Rural, Glendo, State Forestry, Palmer Canyon, Wheatland, West Virginia, and Jefferson County in Colorado all contributed personnel and resources to firefighting efforts. 

The Wyoming Army National Guard activated three UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters with water buckets to provide fire suppression when the fire moved to an area not accessible by ground. 

The Guard completed approximately 130 drops on the blaze, releasing up to 900 U.S. gallons (3,405 liters) of water per drop. The Guard extends its heartfelt thanks to the local responders and the community for its outpour of donations. 

“I can’t thank our mutual aid partners along with the Forestry Department enough,” said Lt. Col. Chris Troesh, Camp Guernsey base operations manager. “Partnerships are key to success in any wildfire situation, and the cooperation of our mutual partners was essential in containing this fire in the time that we did.” 

The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

Three rescued Sunday in Grand Teton National Park

JACKSON (WNE) –- With tens of thousands of tourists passing through any given day and a strong contingent of risk-taking residents, slip-trip type blunders, boating mishaps and climbing accidents are routine parts of summer life for Jackson Hole’s first-responders.

Sunday in Grand Teton National Park was a prime example.

The busy July weekend day for rangers began when a call came in that morning of a local man who sustained severe injuries while climbing the Open Book route of Disappointment Peak.

“He injured both legs, his partner was able to lower him to a ledge and then rappelled to his location,” Grand Teton spokesman C.J. Adams said.

The badly hurt resident was extracted from the Tetons via a “short haul,” a technique in which a rope is dangled from a helicopter that’s fixed to the patient. 

Ten minutes before noon, a call came in requesting help for an 18-year-old male tourist who had hurt a leg in the boulder field below the evermore popular Delta Lake.

Next up, the Snake River caused some chaos for two out-of-the-area kayakers who endeavored to float from Pacific Creek to Deadman’s Bar in a tandem boat. The call for help rang through around 4 p.m.

“They got caught up in a midstream obstruction,” Adams said. “Our rangers picked them up, essentially in a raft.”

Although natural river levels in the region are especially slim this summer, flows coming out of the Jackson Lake Dam are nearly 75% more than the historic median — high water that has caused some problems for boaters.

Gillette residents criticize cemetery for concert series

GILLETTE (WNE) — At least a pair of residents are upset at the direction the Campbell County Cemetery District is headed.

Gene and Patricia Bertch showed up to the Campbell County Commission meeting last week to voice their displeasure with the Cemetery District, particularly with its summer concert series and the sculpture walk programs.

Patricia Bertch said her family owns 16 plots on the hill at the cemetery, and that she was told that it would be a relaxing and meditative place.

“What we got was Gillette’s newest beer garden,” she said, referring to the Tuesday night acoustic concert series at Mount Pisgah. “There is no way beer should be there, or music.” 

Cemetery District board member Dean Vomhof said he was on the fence about the music because he wasn’t sure if it was really the right thing for the cemetery to do, so he went to the first concert.

“I went out there on a Tuesday, and I have to say, I was very surprised. It was very nice,” he said. “The music was low-key. Go, take a look at it, see what you think. It’s not done to disrespect anybody.”

“This initially has been kind of an experiment on partnering with the community to offer some summer events outside, and so our intent from the very beginning was to watch this very closely and see how it went,” said Jim Hastings, president of the Cemetery District board of trustees. He said about 125 people attended last week’s concert and there was no negative feedback.

There are four more concerts left in the series. They take place from 6-9 p.m. each Tuesday through Aug. 17. 

Cody man alleged to have hit five vehicles while impaired

POWELL  (WNE) — A 24-year-old man is in custody after he hit multiple vehicles before crashing and passing out Thursday night in Powell. 

Michael “Quinn” Levario, of Cody, is alleged to have been under the influence of either alcohol or a controlled substance at the time of the incident. Powell police say Levario appeared to have overdosed on opioids and officers found a syringe with a dark blue liquid and “numerous” alcoholic beverages inside his truck. 

Levario has been charged with three misdemeanor counts: driving while under the influence for a second time in 10 years, careless driving and failing to stop and notify the owner after a crash. 

He pleaded not guilty to the charges at a Friday morning appearance in Park County Circuit Court. 

Powell police responded to the area of Avenue E and Edmonds Street around 10:11 p.m. Thursday after getting a report that a Dodge pickup had hit numerous parked vehicles and the driver was unresponsive. Police would ultimately find that Levario had hit four vehicles before running into the back of a Ford Explorer and coming to a stop. 

Court records show that, among about a dozen misdemeanor offenses and citations from the past, Levario was convicted of driving while under the influence of a controlled substance in May 2017. 

Levario was also involved in a crash earlier this year. 

At Friday’s court appearance, Circuit Court Judge Bruce Waters set Levario’s bond at $5,000, and he remained in jail on Monday afternoon. If he does post bond, Levario will be prohibited from driving “for any reason” while the case is pending. 

A trial is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 30.

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