Wyoming news briefs for December 24

Man sentenced to prison in fatal accident

GILLETTE — A Gillette man whose driving resulted in the death of a teenage boy in 2020 will serve 10 to 18 years in prison.

In September, a jury found Matthew Coleman guilty of aggravated homicide by reckless driving and driving under the influence of alcohol in the death of 14-year-old Daniel Ahlers.

District Judge Stuart S. Healy III sentenced Coleman Monday morning.

The night of June 6, 2020, Coleman had taken five kids for a “joy ride” in his 2011 Dodge Ram 2500 when it flipped over near the corner of Burma Avenue and Metz Drive, killing Ahlers.

Coleman was “corner hopping” in his truck that night, and he’d been drinking earlier.

At his sentencing, Coleman said that night is “forever scarred in his mind,” and he’s “deeply sorry for causing this turmoil.”

Chief Deputy County Attorney Nathan Henkes recommended a sentence of 12 to 18 years in prison.

“This was not an accident,” Henkes said, adding that Coleman made “an intentional decision” that night to drive drunk and recklessly.

He said Coleman put Daniel’s family through additional trauma by taking the case to trial.

Coleman’s attorney, Steven Titus, asked Healy for a sentence of 60 to 180 months in prison. Titus said Coleman “had no choice but to go to trial.”

Coleman exercised his constitutional right to have a jury trial, Healy said, and that cannot be held against him.


Hearings set in Jackson meth production case

JACKSON — Two defendants in an alleged meth production case will appear in Teton County Circuit Court for preliminary hearings early next week.

The two men — Timothy Ritter, 43, and William “Ian” Whipple, 52 — were arrested Dec. 16 for the alleged production of methamphetamine in an East Jackson home.

Ritter’s hearing is Dec. 28, and Whipple’s is Dec. 27. At their hearings, Teton County Circuit Court Judge James Radda will assess if there’s enough evidence for the state to proceed in its cases against the two men.

In the meantime, both men are out on bail. 

Ritter and Whipple’s arrest is the result of an investigation undertaken by the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigations, which accelerated Nov. 10 when one of the men was arrested on an active warrant while possessing two precursors, or ingredients used to make methamphetamine, an affidavit states.

That led officers to a residence on the 700 block of Pearl Avenue, where officers found meth and ingredients used to cook meth as well as text messages alluding to the production of meth between Ritter and Whipple.

Ritter is facing two felony charges: conspiracy to produce methamphetamine and possession of a controlled substance precursor. Each charge carries a maximum of 20 years in jail and a $25,000 fine, according to a court document filed Dec. 15.

Whipple faces the same charges as well as felony possession of more than three grams of methamphetamine, which carries a maximum 7-year sentence and a $15,000 fine.