WHP trooper pleads not guilty to animal cruelty

SUBLETTE COUNTY – Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper Richard J. Morrison pleaded not guilty in writing to the misdemeanor charge of animal cruelty, meaning his Nov. 15 arraignment did not take place in Sublette County Circuit Court.

The charge against Morrison was filed Nov. 4 by special prosecutor Loretta Howieson of Uinta County. It resulted from a June 17 visit by Deputy Krystal Mansur to Morrison’s home, where his apparently overheated dog had been sitting outside in high temperatures with very little water, her affidavit says.

Morrison left for training on June 13 and planned to return June 20 or 22, it says. Although the dog had food, there was barely enough water left for that day and it had no protection from the sun, she noted. The area and kennel were covered with feces. The dog was taken to a nearby vet clinic, where Morrison later picked her up, it says.

Because of Morrison’s working connections with county agencies, Sublette County Attorney Mike Crosson handed the investigation over to Uinta County.

His pretrial conference is set for Feb. 28 and six-person jury trial for March 29, 2022.

The maximum penalty for the first offense of animal cruelty is six months in jail and $750 fine. A second offense is a high misdemeanor with up to a year in jail and $5,000 fine.