Wyoming news briefs for Feb. 23

Man accused of attempted murder pleads not guilty

CHEYENNE Charles Webster Mathisen pleaded not guilty Thursday to multiple charges, including first- and second-degree attempted murder, in Laramie County District Court.

Mathisen, of Cheyenne, has been charged with five felonies: first-degree attempted murder, second-degree attempted murder, unlawful entry into an occupied structure, being a felon in possession of a firearm and being a habitual criminal, which requires having been previously convicted of two or more felonies in separate cases.

Mathisen was also charged with misdemeanor domestic battery (first offense), domestic assault, unlawful touching and reckless driving. 

At about 6 p.m. Jan. 16, a Cheyenne police officer responded to a report of a prior domestic disturbance that occurred Jan. 13. A woman said Mathisen pushed his way into her home without permission, according to court documents. Once inside, Mathisen continued pushing the woman, attempting to strangle her and eventually hitting her, causing bruising and a bloody nose.

Mathisen then grabbed a pistol and, while pinning the woman against a wall, placed the loaded pistol in her mouth and pulled the trigger. After the gun did not discharge, Mathisen put it to the woman’s head and attempted to fire again, with the pistol again misfiring. Mathisen then attempted to shoot himself in the head three times, but the gun malfunctioned and would not fire. He dropped the pistol and left the home.

On Jan. 16, Mathisen again showed up at the woman’s home and assaulted her, according to court documents.

Laramie County District Judge Catherine Rogers set Mathisen’s trial for the week of June 21. As of Thursday, he was being held at the Laramie County jail on $75,000 cash bond.


Man killed Monday in Grand Teton National Park avalanche

JACKSON  A man was killed in an avalanche in Grand Teton National Park on Monday, authorities said.

Matthew Brien, 33, of Jackson and originally from Pennsylvania, was buried in the avalanche, according to the Teton County Coroner. The slide was reported around 12:30 p.m. 

Park rangers and Teton County Search and Rescue were called to the slide in the Broken Thumb Couloir, off the north side of 25 Short in the park.

Avalanche danger in the area has hovered between high and considerable over the last week. This is the third person to die in an avalanche in this region in one week's time.

The Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center's Monday forecast was grim.

"Avalanche conditions remain dangerous at the mid and upper elevations. Backcountry travelers could easily trigger small to large wind slabs on steep, wind loaded slopes," it stated. "While these slides could kill you, involvement in a persistent deep slab avalanche almost certainly will."

Twenty-Five Short and the Broken Thumb Couloir are in the high-elevation range, where Monday's avalanche danger was considerable.

Additional information about Monday's avalanche wasn't available by press time.

On Thursday, first responders and forecasters urged extreme caution in the backcountry after Michael McKelvey, 31, of Jackson, was killed in an avalanche off Togwotee Pass.

The day before, a Michigan man died in an avalanche off Greys River Road. The 56-year-old was snowmobiling with his son and brothers when he was buried, first responders said. The slide carried eight snowmobiles in its debris.


Snowmobilers rescued from Beartooth Mountains

CODY  With the use of a Huey helicopter from Montana, Park County Search and Rescue saved two snowmobilers Saturday in the Beartooth Mountains. 

The two men had gone missing Thursday and said they were hours from resigning themselves to “curl up and die” when they heard the sound of the Huey overhead Saturday morning.

“As they began getting these thoughts, that’s when they heard the Huey in its search pattern,” Park County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Charla Baugher said in a release. “When it left, that’s when they heard the snowmobiles below them and began shouting for help.”

Trevor Deal, 22, of Bridger and Maison Ostwald, 21, of Laurel, were evacuated on the Huey and were exhausted, dehydrated and hypothermic. 

Deal refused treatment while Ostwald was transported to the hospital and eventually flown to the Idaho Falls Burn Center for treatment of severe frostbite. 

The rescue began when, at 8 p.m. Thursday, the Park County Sheriff’s Dispatch received a report of two overdue snowmobilers in the Beartooth Mountains east of the Top of the World Store. The two men began snowmobiling at 8 a.m. that morning and had contacted a friend at 5 p.m. to say that one of their sleds had become disabled but they were trying to get back to the highway on their own. No location was given. 

Park County Search and Rescue was deployed to the area on snowmobiles. They were assisted by volunteer members of the Cody Country Snowmobile Association and volunteers from Snow Search. They searched through the night, eventually suspending operations at 4 a.m. Friday morning.

The search, which included many volunteers, continued as conditions permitted until the men were recovered Saturday. 


Man who pulled knife at library pleads ‘ no contest’

RIVERTON — Addressing a drunken knife incident at the Riverton Branch Library last autumn, Thomas Oliver Shakespeare pleaded “no contest” to aggravated assault Thursday morning. 

The state agreed to cap his prison sentence at six years, allowing Shakespeare the right to argue for sentencing as he deems fit. 

Shakespeare is represented by public defender Bailey Lazzari. His sentencing could be imminent. 

According to court documents, a 15- year-old boy and his friends were sitting at a table at the library at about 5 p.m. on Sept. 25, when a man started “stumbling at” them. 

The boy was interviewed by Riverton Police Department officer Brandon Brookover, who responded to the scene and detained Shakespeare in his police vehicle prior to the interview. 

“Shakespeare lunged towards him with the knife in hand,” Brookover related. 

The teen jumped back and away from the table, yelling for someone to call the police. 

Fremont County Attorney Patrick LeBrun noted in court Thursday morning that soon after this incident, Shakespeare blew a .277 reading for blood-alcohol levels at the Riverton Police Department. The legal blood-alcohol limit for driving, the most-common use of the statistic, is .08.