Wyoming news briefs for October 7

Man charged with kidnapping in Yellowstone

CODY — A man is facing charges in federal court for assault with a dangerous weapon and kidnapping, holding another man at knifepoint in Yellowstone National Park.

Gregory Toth is accused of assaulting a co-worker, pressing a knife against their neck and choking them at the Fishing Bridge RV Park last Friday.

If found guilty of those and other charges, Toth could face up to life in prison and $520,000 in fines.

According to court documents, the evening before the assault, the victim and another co-worker drove to Cody to go to Walmart. While at the store, Toth called the victim and accused him of sleeping with his ex-girlfriend. Toth threatened that he would come to Cody and deal with him “properly.”

Around 5:20 a.m. the next morning the victim awoke to Toth calling his cellphone, according to court documents. The victim didn’t answer but soon after heard a banging on his trailer and more phone calls from Toth. As the victim was about to open the door, Toth allegedly pushed it in and threw him to the ground. Toth put his hands around the victim’s neck and started choking him.

According to court documents, Toth searched the victim’s phone but found no evidence of contact between the two. After a few minutes Toth allegedly relented and let the victim up. Eventually Toth allowed the victim out of the trailer, which was when they ran toward a co-worker commuting to Old Faithful.


Extradition stalled for teen accused of killing father

SHERIDAN — County prosecutors await the extradition from Montana of Christian L. Torres, 15, who is accused of murdering his father, Edgar “Eddie” Jones, on July 27, 2021. Torres has not yet been extradited from Montana, local officials said, because Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte has delayed in signing the defendant’s extradition warrant. 

Court documents state that, after allegedly killing his father at the family’s home in Dayton, Wyoming, Torres attempted to flee to Billings, Montana, in his father’s truck. When the teenager crashed the truck near Hardin, Montana, on the night of July 27, he was taken into custody by local law enforcement and admitted to the murder. Torres’ arrest in Montana — rather than Wyoming — necessitated his extradition from the former state to the latter. 

However, Torres’ extradition is taking longer than usual. Although Torres was charged with second-degree murder on July 29 and a warrant was issued for his arrest the same day, the defendant’s extradition process has stalled because Gianforte has not yet signed his extradition warrant, according to Sheridan prosecutors. 

Sheridan County and Prosecuting Attorney Dianna Bennett said Monday the delay in extradition was “getting very frustrating” and that she doubted county officials would ever learn the reason behind the Montana governor’s procrastination in signing the extradition warrant.

Representatives from Montana’s Governor’s office did not respond to the Press’ requests for comment.


Judge denies request to delay fraud lawsuit

RIVERTON — The United States District Court for Wyoming on Monday denied Paul McCown’s request for his lawsuit to be paused. 

Formerly the chief financial officer of Wyoming Catholic College, McCown was sued by investment firm RIA R Squared on June 22, when the latter alleged that McCown defrauded the company of $15 million - $10 million of which he’s believed to have transferred to the college. 

The defendant asked U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl to pause the civil suit August 16, because of a simultaneous criminal investigation on the same events. 

But on that same date, McCown also pleaded the Fifth Amendment in his civil case, which, Skavdahl wrote, took the pressure off the court to pause the suit. 

Skavdahl denied McCown’s motion for a stay. 

The judge wrote Oct. 1, in a document filed three days later, that judges are directed to pause civil proceedings when they interfere and overlap with the criminal process in a compromising way. 

Chiefly, he wrote, courts should “avoid placing the defendants in the position of having to choose between risking a loss in their civil cases by invoking their Fifth Amendment rights, or risking conviction in their criminal cases by waiving their Fifth Amendment rights and testifying in the civil proceedings.” 

He added that “Paul McCown has already chosen to risk the loss in this civil case by exercising his Fifth Amendment right in order to avoid risking conviction in... any criminal action,” adding that McCown could request a stay again if the circumstances change. 


Man pleads not guilty to murder in shooting

NEWCASTLE — Paul Manders, of Osage, pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder on Sept. 30 during his arraignment in Weston County’s 6th Judicial District Court. The 52-year-old is accused of shooting Vernon Clyde, of Osage, on July 27. 

According to court documents, Manders had called 911 to report that he had shot Clyde, in what was said to be the conclusion of an ongoing property dispute between the two men. 

On Sept. 1, during a preliminary hearing in the Sixth Circuit Court, Judge Mathew Castano, after determining probable cause, bound Manders over to district court on a charge of second-degree murder. 

“Given the nature of the incident, the ongoing dispute and the multiple shots, malice can be inferred,” Castano said during the hearing.

Wyoming statutes state that murder in the second degree is committed when a person “purposely and maliciously, but without premeditation, kills any human being.” 

Manders’ public defender did not request a reduced bail amount during the hearing, despite a request to have his bond lowered during his preliminary hearing. At press time, Manders was still being held at the Weston County Detention Center on a $150,000 bond. 

A trial date has not yet been scheduled. If convicted, Manders faces no less than 20 years in prison with a maximum sentence of life in prison. A fine of no more than $10,000 may also be added to the sentence.