Wyoming news briefs for March 1

Casper man arrested in January shooting

CASPER — Casper police arrested a man Friday for second-degree murder after an investigation into a Jan. 13 suspicious death. 

Olinza Headd, 53, was taken into custody Friday. Witnesses told police that Headd had publicly announced at his church on Jan. 17 that he had shot another man, according to a Friday press release from the department. 

Headd faces a felony charge of second-degree murder for the death of Eugene Hogan III, who was found dead with several gunshot wounds inside his apartment on Tranquility Way the evening of Jan. 13. 

Hogan’s girlfriend told police, who initially believed they were responding to an attempted suicide, she had heard a gunshot from the apartment. 

Police first identified a person of interest in the case on Jan. 19. 

According to police, Headd was a family member of Hogan’s and entered his apartment with a firearm that evening. 

The investigation’s findings suggest Headd shot Hogan multiple times, leaving before law enforcement arrived. 

In a statement Friday, investigators credited witnesses who came forward with information with helping them identify the suspect. 

“This investigation highlights the importance of our community’s role in helping to solve and prevent crimes,” Police Chief Keith McPheeters said in a statement.


Woman sentenced in fire department embezzlement

ROCK SPRINGS — The wife of Green River’s former fire chief was sentenced to prison Tuesday morning for embezzling funds from the Green River Fire Department Foundation in 2019. 

Sweetwater County District Court Judge Suzannah Robinson sentenced Stephanie Nomis to two to six years in the Wyoming Women’s Center or other correctional facility for felony theft. She was given credit for 114 days served on the original charge and bond revocation. Nomis was also ordered to pay restitution of the $42,178.25 she took from the fund in addition to court costs.

Stephanie Nomis originally pleaded not guilty at her district court arraignment in June of 2020. She changed her plea to guilty in October and appeared before Judge Robinson via video hearing on Tuesday, Feb. 23, for her sentencing hearing. In another case, Stephanie Nomis has been convicted on a misdemeanor charge of possession of methamphetamine. 

The prosecution read victim impact statements from three people during Tuesday’s sentencing hearing. Nomis apologized for her actions and said that she would like the people affected to be able to begin the healing process.

In announcing the sentence, Judge Robinson said that there was no way the court could fix what had happened. Still, the judge said it is important for people to understand that this type of crime is not acceptable. One factor making the crime particularly sad is that the money was stolen from those who had donated funds intended to help the community and those in need, she added. 


UW plans virtual spring commencement

LARAMIE — In a statement released on Feb. 24, the University of Wyoming announced that the spring 2021 commencement ceremony will be conducted virtually. They cite continuing concerns about large gatherings and travel related to the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason for the virtual ceremony. 

“It does not appear that conditions in May will allow for the traditional large, in-person commencement ceremonies,” said Ryan O’Neil, dean of students and associate vice president for student affairs. 

She noted that, although there appears to be a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel with the vaccination efforts, it does not seem likely that enough people will be vaccinated by May to make it safe. 

The news of the virtual commencement has been met with some disappointment. 

“I was super disappointed,” said Heather Kelly, registered nurse and mother to two UW students.

One of her daughters is scheduled to graduate this May. Kelly said that there were many universities throughout the country having in-person graduations, and she is unsure why UW won’t be able to have one.

“I’m a registered nurse, so I understand and agree with the COVID precautions,” said Kelly.

However, she felt that there were ways to have a safe and socially distanced in-person ceremony.

She noted that UW’s engineering department will hold their own graduation ceremony the day before the commencement, and thinks this could be a great idea for other colleges at the university. 


UK COVID variant found in Campbell County

GILLETTE — The “U.K. variant” of COVID-19 has been confirmed in Campbell County.

An adult man who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month was found to have had the U.K variant, formally known as the B.1.1.7 Variant. He underwent quarantine and came out with no further complications, according to a Campbell County Public Health press release.

“The variant spreads more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19,” said Campbell County Public Health Officer Dr. Kirtikumar Patel in the press release. “The variant continues to be studied and at this time does not seem to cause more dangerous health complications.”

To this point, studies have found that antibodies developed through the approved COVID-19 vaccines recognize the U.K and other known variants, but more research is being done, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There were six new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Campbell County on Friday as its 17 active cases stayed relatively low.


Man convicted in 2020 stabbing

RIVERTON — Shane Kyle Armajo has been convicted of serious bodily assault for stabbing his uncle. The 34-year-old from Kinnear has not yet been sentenced, but he faces up to 10 years in prison on the charge. 

Armajo was indicted by a grand jury in November on the Oct. 14 incident, in which he had stabbed his uncle and left him for dead on a country road on the Wind River Indian Reservation, near Kinnear. 

His trial lasted two days and began on Feb. 16, in the U.S. District Court in Casper, under Chief U.S. District Court Judge Scott W. Skavdahl. He was found guilty. 

When an FBI special agent interviewed Armajo’s uncle, Morton Armajo, at the Wyoming Medical Center in Casper on Oct. 16, the injured man said he and his nephew, Shane Armajo, had decided to go to Kinnear to buy alcohol together two days prior. 

The pair made two trips for alcohol and got into an altercation on the way back to the home they shared, according to court documents.

Morton Armajo told investigators he blacked out during the fight and when he came to, he was on his back, lying on the ground, and his nephew was “stabbing” him with a knife.

Shane Armajo left his uncle by the side of the road and drove away. Morton Armajo was found later that evening and emergency responders took him to SageWest Health Care in Riverton.

The treating physician said Morton Armajo had lost so much blood he risked death.