Wyoming news briefs for November 23

GasBuddy: Gasoline prices continue to drop in Wyoming

CHEYENNE — Wyoming gas prices have fallen 3.7 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.39 per gallon Monday, according to GasBuddy.com's daily survey of 494 stations in Wyoming.

Gas prices in Wyoming are 2.8 cents per gallon lower than a month ago, and stand $1.25 per gallon higher than a year ago.

According to GasBuddy price reports, the cheapest station in Wyoming was priced at $2.86 per gallon Monday, while the most expensive was $3.99, a difference of $1.13.

The national average price of gasoline has fallen 1.9 cents per gallon in the last week, averaging $3.39 per gallon today. The national average is up 2.8 cents per gallon from a month ago, and stands $1.30 higher than a year ago.


Man sentenced to life in prison for murder

CODY — A former Powell man was sentenced to life imprisonment Friday in Goshen County District Court.

Sean Pettus, 32, was sentenced to life in prison without parole after he had his no contest plea to second degree murder accepted by Goshen County District Court Judge Patrick Korell.

That plea was drawn into question when Pettus claimed he had not been given proper counsel before pleading no contest to the murder of Madison Cook, 20, in Torrington in April. He submitted a request to withdraw his plea, but Korell denied the request to start Friday’s hearing.

“The record clearly reflects the original plea was voluntarily made,” Korell said.

Prior to the hearing, Torrington Police submitted evidence of Pettus talking to an “admirer” about the case over a jail phone call Oct. 21. In that call, Pettus can be heard saying it “might be hard” to prove he was not offered proper counsel because his attorney had advised him against taking the no contest plea he agreed to on Aug. 23, a complete contradiction to what he claimed to the court less than two weeks earlier when he requested to withdraw his plea. 

According to Torrington Police, officers found Madison Cook’s body in her home wrapped in a blanket placed between the bed mattress and the bedroom wall. She had received six stab wounds and blunt force trauma to her right eye.

Pettus also pleaded guilty to arson, two counts of burglary and auto theft, to which he will serve consecutive sentences. Korell sentenced him to 29-50 years in prison for those crimes.


Woman arrested in incident involving Fremont County vehicle’s lights and siren

SHERIDAN — A Riverton woman was arrested last week for driving under the influence of alcohol after police saw her “playing with the lights” and sirens of a Fremont County owned vehicle parked in the 400 block of East Fremont Avenue. 

Officials said they noticed the “weird behavior” at about 1 a.m. Thursday, when a police officer saw two people inside of the EMS supervisor vehicle – a white Ford Expedition owned by Fremont County. 

The individuals were turning the vehicle lights on and off and activating the vehicle’s siren, Riverton Police Department officer Wesley Barry said Tuesday, so the officer on scene approached the truck and contacted the woman in the driver’s seat – Jessicca Gordon, 33, of Riverton. 

The officer noticed that Gordon “smelled like an alcohol beverage,” Barry said, so she was asked to complete a field sobriety test. 

“After the officer observed that she was too intoxicated to operate a motor vehicle, he placed her under arrest,” Barry said. 

Gordon told the officer that the truck keys had not been in the ignition, but Barry said the officer believed that to be untrue due to his experience with emergency vehicles.

“The vehicles must be in at least accessory (mode) to initiate the emergency lights,” Barry said. He said the officer also checked the Expedition specifically to ensure the lights and sirens would not work without the keys in the ignition.

Gordon refused to give a breath sample at the scene, Barry said, so the RPD requested a search warrant to obtain a blood draw to determine her level of intoxication. 

The other subject involved in the incident was a 32-year-old man who was not charged or cited, Barry said.


Wyoming holding more than $100 million in unclaimed property

SHERIDAN — Despite record amounts of payments over the past few years, Wyoming’s Unclaimed Property Division of the State Treasurer’s Office is holding on to more money than ever, as the amount of money now being held exceeds $100 million.

“We have stepped up our efforts to reunite owners with their unclaimed properties, but the amount turned into the state continues to outpace the amount we are able to return,” Wyoming State Treasurer Curt Meier said. 

Thanks to the $3.54 million deposited in October and another $3.91 million deposited so far in November, the amount of money held by the state has swelled to more than $100.6 million.

Meier said there are more than 900,000 individual properties in the state’s database, meaning the vast majority of owners will only get paid if they initiate a claim on their own online.

Unclaimed property is turned over when a business, agency or governmental entity owes money, securities and/or the contents of a safe deposit box, among other items, to someone and for whatever reason cannot locate the owner for a specified duration of time. The property is turned over to the state of the last known address, if an address was ever known. If there was no last known address, it is turned over to the state in which the business was incorporated.

To make a valid claim online, visit https://statetreasurer.wyo.gov/unclaimed-property.

Owners will need to provide information about themselves and may need to submit official documents.

Wyoming law requires the state to hold unclaimed property in perpetuity until it is claimed by the rightful owner.


Bomb squad detonates bags of explosive slurry found in Guernsey reservoir

GUERNSEY — Two hikers who were traveling through the dry Guernsey reservoir bottom came upon bags of high explosive slurry last Saturday and reported it to Guernsey Park ranger Chris Delay. 

According to Delay, the hikers wanted to remain anonymous. 

Each bag was approximately two feet long by five inches in diameter. 

“We immediately called the bomb squad and two officers showed up,” Delay said. “One was from the Laramie County bomb squad and the other was a Cheyenne police officer. Upon further investigation and digging out the bags, five more were found, making a total of nine.” 

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Scientific and Technical Information defines a slurry explosive as one which “can be initiated by the detonator alone without the use of conventional sensitizers and is free from the deterioration due to time.”

The bags were labeled, and an investigation is ongoing as to how and when they got there. Speculation based upon the manufacture date is that they were manufactured sometime between the ‘60’s and the ’80's, Delay said. 

“They could have been there for a long time,” he said. “We just don’t know yet.” 

Delay said it looked like industrial explosive slurry, but that couldn’t be specifically determined either. At times these mixtures are used in military purposes or for mining purposes. 

“The bomb squad detonated the bags right there in the lake bottom,” he said. “They were discovered about a mile northeast of the Sandy Beach boat ramp.