Wyoming news briefs for April 19

Cheyenne man sent to prison for threatening woman with crossbow

CHEYENNE – A man was sentenced Thursday in Laramie County District Court to three to five years in prison for threatening a woman with a crossbow and injuring a police officer.

Before his sentencing by Laramie County District Judge Catherine Rogers, Jason A. Martinez pleaded guilty to felony aggravated assault and battery (threatening with a weapon) and no contest to felony interference with a peace officer (injury) as part of a plea agreement.

Additional charges of felony aggravated assault and battery (threatening with a weapon), felony interference with a peace officer (injury), misdemeanor interference with a peace officer (resisting) and a habitual criminal charge were dismissed.

Assistant District Attorney Rachel Berkness said the state had recommended prison time because of Martinez’s “significant” criminal history.

At 7:36 p.m. Dec. 17, a Cheyenne Police officer responded to a report of a threat with a gun. A woman reported that Martinez, the property manager for an apartment complex, came to her door and threatened her with a weapon, saying she needed to leave and that he would shoot her, according to court documents.

Another tenant said he heard yelling and went outside with a small crossbow he kept for protection. 

When he arrived, Martinez took the crossbow from the man and pointed it at the woman, saying he’d shoot her with it. After the woman shut the door, Martinez shot an arrow into it, according to court documents.

While being taken into custody, Martinez attempted to kick two police officers.


FEMA launches helpline for COVID-19 funeral expense program

ROCK SPRINGS — Wyoming residents who lost a loved one to COVID-19 may apply for federal reimbursement of funeral expenses to help ease some of the financial stress and burden caused by the pandemic. 

To be eligible for COVID-19 funeral assistance, the applicant must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien who incurred funeral expenses after Jan. 20, 2020, for a death related to COVID-19.  The COVID-19-related death must have occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories and the District of Columbia. Funeral assistance is intended to help with expenses for funeral services and interment or cremation, and this assistance is limited to a maximum financial amount of $9,000 per funeral and a maximum of $35,500 per applicant. 

The following documentation is needed to submit the application:

  • An official death certificate that attributes the death to COVID-19 and shows that the death occurred in the United States. 
  • Funeral expense documents (receipts, funeral home contract, etc.) that include the applicant’s name, the deceased individual’s name, the amount of funeral expenses and dates the funeral expenses were incurred. 
  • Proof of funds received from other sources specifically for use toward funeral costs. Funeral assistance may not duplicate benefits received from burial or funeral insurance, financial assistance received from voluntary agencies, federal/ state/local/tribal/territorial government programs or agencies, or other sources. 

For more information about this assistance, visit www.fema.gov/disasters/ coronavirus/economic/funeral-assistance.

The dedicated toll-free phone number to call is 844- 684-6333. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) representatives are available to assist callers from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. 


Snowstorm cost Casper $500K

CASPER — The historic March snowstorm that dropped two feet of snow on Casper cost the city more than half a million dollars — more than half of what it typically spends in a year on snow removal, according to a city announcement Friday. 

The storm, which began the weekend of March 13, cost Casper $509,238 to remove the snow. 

The city traditionally spends $950,000 per year on snow removal. 

The blizzard was the third-largest in the city’s history, dropping 26.3 inches of snow over two days — more than double what had been forecast. The heavy snow and wind resulted in a cascade of highway, business and school closures and closures of every highway in and out of the city.

The city will seek reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for that cost, much of which came from leasing equipment and hiring contractors to help clear roads. 

The city plows its main streets and collector streets, as well as residential streets when they are considered impassible. Due to the size of the blizzard, however, the city contacted every heavy equipment contractor in the Casper area to see if they could help clear snow, according to a news release. Six contractors were ultimately hired to plow residential streets. Even then, some side streets and residential areas remained nearly impassible for days. 

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon’s request for a Presidential Disaster Declaration makes Natrona County, as well as its cities and towns, eligible for possible FEMA reimbursement. 

Southeastern Wyoming was also hit by more than two feet in places, with 25.8 inches dropping in Cheyenne, setting a two-day record for the capital city.


Cheney outraises challengers in initial fundraising for 2022 primary election

CHEYENNE – With more than a year left until Wyoming’s 2022 primary election, Congresswoman Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., reported a strong start to her campaign’s fundraising efforts last week, accruing roughly $1.5 million in contributions over the first quarter of 2021 and outraising the challengers that have emerged since her vote to impeach former President Donald Trump.

The $1.54 million raised in the first quarter by Cheney, who has held Wyoming’s sole House seat since 2017, reflects a higher quarterly amount than any she has reported during the past three elections, according to Federal Election Commission reports. 

Her campaign closed the first quarter of 2021 with roughly $1.43 million in cash on hand.

A pair of her competitors, led by state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, also had noteworthy starts to their fundraising efforts.

Bouchard, who was the first to announce his campaign against Cheney following her impeachment vote of Trump in January, raised roughly $334,000 in the first quarter, with about $164,000 in cash on hand heading into April, according to his FEC report filed last week.

Another state lawmaker running against the incumbent congresswoman, Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, trailed both Cheney and Bouchard in first-quarter fundraising. Gray reported roughly $173,000 in contributions, with about $133,000 of that coming from his own pocket and another $5,800 coming from his father.

Last week, Trump issued a statement suggesting he will be backing a candidate in the race in the near future.

His statement came shortly after Cheney, who has repeatedly condemned the former president’s role in inciting a mob’s attack on the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6, told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto that she would not support Trump if he was the GOP nominee for president in 2024.