Wyoming news briefs for August 9
Case of toddler’s murder sent to district court
CHEYENNE — The case of a man accused of killing a local 2-year-old and then putting his body in a dumpster was found to have probable cause Friday morning and will be heard in Laramie County District Court.
Wyatt Dean Lamb appeared in Laramie County Circuit Court for a preliminary hearing, with Judge Sean Chambers finding cause to bind the case over to district court, which handles felony criminal cases.
During the hearing, Cheyenne Police Detective Jeremy Walker testified as the witness for the prosecution, led by Laramie County District Attorney Leigh Anne Manlove. He was later cross-examined by Lamb’s attorneys, State Public Defender Diane Lozano and Brandon Booth.
Lamb’s bond remained at $1 million cash, originally set at his initial court appearance in June.
His next appearance will be his arraignment in district court, but the time and date have yet to be announced.
Lamb is currently charged with first-degree murder and 10 felony counts of child abuse with injury.
The murder charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison or death, with each child abuse charge carrying a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison or a $10,000 fine.
Athian Rivera, 2, was reported missing by his mother, Kassandra Orona, around 1 p.m. Feb. 19. His body was discovered around 3 that afternoon in a dumpster just outside an entrance to Orona’s apartment, located in the 400 block of Desmet Drive.
The toddler died from brain swelling caused by blunt force trauma, restriction of oxygen or both, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Eviction freeze covers Wyoming
CASPER — Nearly all Wyoming counties fall under the eviction moratorium extension enacted last week.
The extension covers counties with substantial or high-level community transmission of COVID-19. In Wyoming, that includes all counties but Hot Springs, which has moderate levels of transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID data tracker.
Washakie County is experiencing substantial spread of the virus. The remaining 21 counties all have high levels, the CDC tracker shows.
The number of counties that qualify for the moratorium could change over time along with transmission rates, said Rachel Girt, a spokeswoman for the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
The CDC issued a new eviction ban Tuesday. The latest moratorium does not apply as broadly as past ones have. Instead, the CDC tied this version to COVID transmission rates, reasoning that a wave of evictions would exacerbate the rapid increase in cases brought on, in part, by the delta variant.
“We encourage Wyoming renters who are behind on rent or who believe they are at risk of eviction to submit a declaration to their landlord, apply for emergency rental assistance and, if necessary, seek help from Legal Aid of Wyoming,” Korin Schmidt, Wyoming Department of Family Services director, said in a statement.
The department is administering Wyoming’s rental assistance program, which is available to tenants who face the prospect of eviction because they can’t afford rent. The state received $180 million for the program, which launched in April.
Teen who died in lake identified
RIVERTON — A 15-year-old youth who was found deceased in Morton Lake on July 27 has been identified as Dagon McWhorter.
The teen became the subject of a Fremont County Search and Rescue call July 25 while tubing with other teens in the lake, which is also known as Pilot Butte Reservoir.
Search efforts that Saturday and Sunday were unsuccessful, and sophisticated sonar equipment from the Sublette County Sheriff was deployed July 27 by Fremont County Sheriff Ryan Lee and local Search and Rescue personnel.
The teen’s body was pulled from the lake just before noon that day.
Fremont County Coroner chief deputy Erin Ivie said the investigation has been undertaken by her office and Lee’s office, and is ongoing.
McWhorter was from Evanston. Scanner traffic on July 25 indicated that he was a resident of the Riverton Group Home for Boys at the time of his death.
Tribe vaccination rate higher than state average
CASPER — The Northern Arapaho Tribe has vaccinated 45-50 percent of tribal members, according to Dr. Paul Ebbert, Chief Medical Officer of Wind River Family & Community Health. Compared to the rest of Wyoming, which has fully inoculated just 37 percent of the eligible population.
And while Dr. Ebbert’s goal is short of vaccinating 70 percent of tribal members, he hopes incentives and awareness will push the unvaccinated to begin the process.
“We actually had the most people vaccinated in a month in July than we’ve had since, like February or January,” he said.
Northern Arapaho tribal members can receive up to $100 for getting both scheduled doses of the vaccine, Dr. Ebbert pointed out.
The rise of the delta variant has played a considerable role with the increase of vaccinations. But the almost daily reminders from the tribe’s social media page and attending ceremonies have also played a part.
Tribal leaders like Northern Arapaho Business Chairman Jordan Dresser and medical professionals have created campaigns explaining what vaccination does and its benefits.
“Like the rest of the country, a lot of (tribal members) have questions about the vaccine and what they put in their body,” Dresser said. “We just inform tribal members how it’s going to benefit you in the long, as an extra layer of protection for you, and especially all those who are elderly and with underlying health conditions.”
More complaints against company with Sheridan address
SHERIDAN — Another scam emerged this week associated with a commercial registered agent at the 30 N. Gould St. address in Sheridan.
The Better Business Bureau received 31 complaints and seven negative customer reviews regarding Galaxy Line, LLC — developers of at least three diet and exercise-focused mobile applications.
The apps, Workout & Fitness Coach, Diet & Weight Loss Tracker and Step Counter and GPS Walks, are available for download on Apple’s App Store and Google Play, according to a press release from BBB.
Complainants allege a number of concerns related to this company. The majority of customers report downloading a free trial version of a Galaxy Line app and then later being charged $86.99, without notice or consent, for a membership subscription to the app.
Customers further report being unable to cancel their membership, even when attempting to do so prior to the trial period expiring.
Of the 31 complaints submitted, 11 are currently pending. A Galaxy Line representative provided responses to two complaints; however, 18 others have been closed without the business’ response.
“Galaxy Line advertises an address in Sheridan, however, this appears to be a commercial registered agent’s location and is not typically a physical place of business,” the BBB press release said. “BBB has been unable to locate a different address or a phone number for the business.
Because of an article published Nov. 25, 2020, by The Sheridan Press, Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce’s Dixie Johnson said state officials are aware of the issue and are working with complaints similar to that of the Galaxy Line business in the Wyoming Attorney General’s office.