Wyoming news briefs for May 12

Posted 5/12/22

News from across Wyoming.

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Wyoming news briefs for May 12


Man gets prison for domestic violence offense

CHEYENNE — A man received prison time earlier this week for an attack that left a woman severely injured. 

Christopher Shawn Potter was sentenced Monday to four to six years in prison by Laramie County District Judge Steven Sharpe. 

The victim in the case, a romantic partner of Potter’s, spoke during the hearing in support of him. Potter’s son also spoke in support of him. 

Potter gave a statement in court expressing remorse for his actions. He pleaded no contest in late November to felony aggravated assault and battery with serious bodily injury. 

Four additional charges – felony strangulation of a household member, misdemeanor reckless endangerment and domestic battery (first offense), as well as a habitual criminal charge – were dismissed at sentencing, per a plea agreement. 

Last May, a deputy with the Laramie County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of a physical domestic disturbance in the 400 block of West College Drive. 

The deputy contacted the reporting party, a woman, whose eyes were both swollen shut, according to a probable cause affidavit. She had blood all over her face and hands. The woman later told the deputy it was Potter who injured and choked her. 

Medical staff at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center said the woman had severe injuries to her face and head and was hallucinating. The woman told them she had passed out earlier when Potter choked her, the affidavit recounted. 

The woman told law enforcement Potter had also punched her twice in the face, pulled her hair, pinned her to the ground and pounded her head against the floor. She said she was unable to breathe while Potter choked her, and she described Potter as bipolar. 


Police arrest fiancé of missing woman

GILLETTE — The fiancé of Irene Gakwa, a person of interest in Gakwa's missing person case, was arrested Tuesday afternoon.

The Gillette Police Department arrested Nathan J. Hightman, 38, and charged him with two felony counts of theft, one felony count of unlawful use of a credit card, and two felony counts of crimes against intellectual property. Gakwa is the victim of these crimes.

Detectives believe Gakwa went missing under suspicious circumstances. She was last seen in a video call with her parents on Feb. 24. She was reported missing to the Gillette Police Department on March 20.

Leading up to her disappearance, Gakwa had been living with Hightman, who was her fiancé, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed in the case.

Hightman, who made his initial appearance in Circuit Court Wednesday afternoon, has declined interview requests from the police. His bond has been set at $10,000, and a preliminary hearing has been scheduled for May 19. 

Detectives are asking the public for any information concerning a gray or silver Subaru Crosstrek with Idaho license plates which may have been seen trespassing on private property or appearing out of place in rural areas of Campbell County between February 24 and March 20.

They’re also seeking information on a 55-gallon metal drum, which may have been burned and/or abandoned within the county.

If you have any other information related to Irene’s disappearance, call the Gillette Police Department at 307-682-5155.


Woman arrested for role in fight involving hammers

CODY  An Albertson’s parking lot spat from the summer of 2021 has resulted in felony charges for one of the people involved, despite the fact that person was allegedly struck by a hammer during the event.

Cody resident Shon Keller, 41, was recently charged with aggravated assault and battery, by threatening with a deadly weapon, for her role in a dispute with Paula Smith and Ed Hook last summer. The event led to loud, profane yelling and two different hammer throws made in front of multiple witnesses.

Keller told police she was struck in the breast with a hammer thrown by Smith, causing pain and bleeding. She was taken to West Park Hospital by ambulance for her injury.   

Smith pleaded guilty to breach of peace last fall and was assessed a $250 fine. A charge for battery was dismissed per her plea agreement. 

Keller, on the other hand, could face up to 10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines for the incident.  

Both parties accused the other of starting the spat.

Keller said the dispute began because Smith thought Keller wanted Smith’s boyfriend. Keller said she didn’t. 

Surveillance cameras showed Keller bluff-charging Smith and Hook in her red Ford truck, revving her engine as they were getting out of their vehicle, causing Smith to become startled and jump backward. Keller could be seen pulling up to Hook’s gray Ford truck in a manner that blocked them in.

Smith then banged her fists on the hood of Keller’s truck, telling her to stay away from them. 

Smith said Keller then opened up Hook’s door and tried to hit both her and Hook. A witness then saw Smith take a hammer and throw it across the passenger cabin at Keller, which was followed by Keller throwing the hammer back, an account Smith confirmed.