Wyatt Bear Cloud, the second of three defendants in the Robert Ernst Murder case, had originally been scheduled to go to trial beginning September 13th. In a rushed Motion to Change Plea hearing on September 8th, he had changed his Not Guilty plea to Guilty on three counts: First Degree Murder; Aggravated Burglary; and Conspiracy to Commit Aggravated Burglary.
This change was not per a plea agreement with the State. The State Public Defender's Office, under the directorship of Diane Lozano, investigated and determined that Bear Cloud had entered the plea change without fully understanding what he was doing.
Court documents indicate that while Lozano's office had authorized that Sheridan attorney Hardy Tate serve as a jury consultant to assist Bear Cloud's attorney, Shelley Cundiff, prior to Bear Cloud's trial, Tate was never authorized to act as quasi-co-counsel on the matter. The document states that Tate had implied to the Court at the Change of Plea hearing the State Defender's Office was allowing it.
Lozano subsequently, on September 16th, sent Cundiff a letter informing her that she'd been removed from representing not only Bear Cloud, but all other clients assigned to her by the State. Cundiff told Sheridan Media that the letter did not indicate why she'd been removed.
On September 20th, 4th Judicial District Court received a Notice of Change of Counsel indicating that Kerri M. Johnson, Chief Trial Counsel from Casper, has now been assigned to represent Bear Cloud.
Cundiff said that once she files a Notice of Change of Council on her other cases, she will go back to building up her private practice; she had been contracted on a ½ time basis with the Public Defender's Office.