Preliminary hearing continued for Whitman

SCSO courtesy mugshot of Chett Logan Whitman.

SUBLETTE COUNTY — The preliminary hearing for an Eden man charged with felony aggravated assault and battery resulting in serious bodily injury to a Boulder resident originally scheduled for Aug. 24 has been continued to Sept. 19 to "give the defense more time," according to Clerk of Circuit Court Amy Knotts.

Chett Logan Whitman, 25, is accused of brutally beating Chris Meeks in the parking lot behind the Cowboy Bar in Pinedale on July 9. He was booked into the Sublette County Jail 10 days later on July 19 and appeared before Circuit Court Judge Curt Haws the following day.

Judge Haws denied a request by Whitman’s attorney Rives White to reduce his bond from $50,000 cash or surety to $10,000 cash or surety, voicing concern that the man is “a threat to the community.”

Despite the denial, Whitman posted the $50,000 surety bond and was released from jail on July 21.

According to an affidavit filed by Sublette County detective Sgt. Lance Gehlhausen, Deputy Josh Peterson found Meeks unconscious and “bleeding substantially from the head” behind the Cowboy Bar near midnight on July 9. Off-duty EMTs Danny Long and Shaundel Bennette were trying to stabilize Meeks’ injuries.

Pinedale Clinic attending physician Dr. Alice Jacobson told the deputy Meeks was “in critical condition,” had been intubated and airlifted to an out-of-state trauma facility.

At least two witnesses named in the affidavit told the deputy that Meeks never threw a punch and that Whitman struck Meeks in the face at least three times, once while they were standing and twice after Meeks fell to the ground.

According to court records, including sworn testimony of medical providers, Meeks sustained “extensive facial fractures,” including broken “orbits, bilateral maxillary sinuses, nasal bones and right zygoma,” resulting in the “need to be intubated … and transported to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center via fixed-wing aircraft.”

Under Wyoming statute, aggravated assault and battery is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, a $10,000 fine or both.

Whitman could also be held financially responsible for any out-of-pocket expenses related to Meeks’ medical care, including the cost of the life flight and his upcoming surgeries.

A fundraising campaign for Meeks was set up online by family-friend Rachel Misiewicz at givesendgo.com to offset his medical expenses. As of Aug. 25, $2,120 was raised.

Local contributions can also be made to the Chris Meeks Medical Fund at Glacier, First Bank of Wyoming in Pinedale.

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