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Federal judge stays state death prosecution of Dale Eaton

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - A federal judge has blocked Wyoming from holding a new death penalty sentencing hearing for Dale Wayne Eaton until an appeals court rules on his claims.

U.S. District Judge Alan B. Johnson of Cheyenne last year overturned Eaton's death sentence, saying the Wyoming Public Defender's Office didn't provide him an adequate defense.

The 70-year-old Eaton had been on death row for his murder conviction in the 1988 killing of Lisa Kimmell of Billings, Montana.

Johnson ruled this summer the state had failed to follow his order to appoint lawyers not associated with the Public Defender's Office for Eaton for any new death penalty hearing.

Johnson on Monday blocked the state from sentencing Eaton again until an appeals court rules on Eaton's claims he can't get a fair hearing.


Man who tried to hire hit man to kill parents files appeal

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - A Wyoming man convicted of trying to hire a hit man to kill his parents is asking a federal appeals court to set aside his 35-year prison sentence and order a mental health review.

Prosecutors said Andrew Silicani was serving time in state prison on robbery convictions last year when he tried to hire someone to kill his mother and stepfather in Cheyenne for insurance money.

A confidential source tipped off prison officials and Silicani wound up communicating with an FBI agent posing as a hit man. Silicani pleaded guilty to using the mail to try to commission the murders.

Lawyers for Silicani filed papers in federal appeals court in Denver this week claiming U.S. District Judge Nancy Freudenthal of Cheyenne should have sent him for a mental health assessment.


Lawmaker proposes bill to decriminalize small amounts of pot

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - The Wyoming Legislature is set to debate a bill to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana for the third year.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports that Democratic Rep. Jim Byrd is drafting a bill that would carry a civil penalty for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana the first and second times a person is found to be in possession of it.

People caught with up to half an ounce of marijuana would be fined $50. Anyone with between a half ounce and an ounce would be fined $100.

Byrd's bill is similar to the measures he sponsored in 2014 and 2015.

The next legislative session begins Feb. 8 and is a budget session, meaning bills must receive a two-thirds vote to clear introduction.


Wyoming petitions EPA to reconsider coal-fired plant rule

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead is asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider its new rule regulating emissions from existing coal-fired power plants.

The Wyoming Attorney General's Office on Mead's orders petitioned the EPA on Monday to reconsider. Wyoming is the nation's leading coal-producing state and state officials are increasingly concerned about falling coal revenues.

Wyoming's petition claims the final EPA rule is stricter than an earlier draft. The state says it should have a right to comment on the changes.

Wyoming and other states have filed legal challenges to various EPA rules seeking to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from new and existing coal-fired plants. While the EPA says the regulations are necessary to combat climate change, the states claim the regulations would effectively prohibit all coal-fired plants.


Montana governor allows bison to roam outside Yellowstone

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - Montana's governor will allow wild bison to roam in portions of Montana north and west of Yellowstone National Park, breaking a longstanding impasse in a wildlife conflict that's dragged on for decades.

Tuesday's decision by Gov. Steve Bullock likely won't end the periodic slaughters of bison migrating outside Yellowstone in search of food at lower elevations.

But it for the first time allows hundreds of the animals in areas outside the park year-round.

That's a move long-sought by wildlife advocates and steadfastly opposed by livestock interests. Ranchers around Yellowstone are wary of a disease carried by many bison and the competition the animals will pose for grazing space.

Bullock, a Democrat, says he will continue to pressure the National Park Service to reduce Yellowstone's population of roughly 5,000 bison.


Lawmakers, tribal leaders look to curb cattle rustling

RIVERTON, Wyo. (AP) - Wyoming lawmakers have been asked to consider a bill that would help curb livestock rustling in Fremont County.

The Ranger reports a group of producers and the Fremont County Sheriff has asked the Selected Committee on Tribal Relations to urge the Bureau of Indian Affairs to make livestock theft a priority by inspecting livestock and dedicating enforcement to the issues within the reservation.

Currently the BIA has no statute to help investigate these types of thefts and the Wyoming Livestock Board has no jurisdiction on the reservation.

Sheriff Skip Hornecker says there are proposals being structured to present to the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho business councils so they can join in the efforts and accept outside help.


Cheyenne man pleads no contest to Big Horn Motel murder

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The final defendant connected to the death of a man in a hotel room has accepted a plea deal.

The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports that 36-year-old Joshua Bowen pleaded no contest to second-degree murder on Monday in Laramie County District Court.

Bowen and Dagoberto Ontiveros were charged with first-degree murder last December after the owner of the Big Horn Motel found 48-year-old Anthony Hayward dead in his room. Ontiveros and Bowen were accused of killing Hayward in an attempt to rob him.

Ontiveros pleaded no contest to second-degree murder in July.

Prosecutors say they plan to recommend sentences of 20 to 30 years in prison for both men.


Skier dies at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) - A skier died of injuries suffered at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Wyoming.

The resort issued a statement saying someone spotted the woman unconscious among a group of trees on the Sundance Run at around 11 a.m. Tuesday.

The Jackson Hole News & Guide reports ski patrol responded and the woman was transported to St. John's Clinic in Teton Village, where she was declared dead at 11:38 a.m.

The age and hometown of the woman have not been released.

This is the second death reported at the resort this season. A 23-year-old snowboarder from Stowe, Vermont - Callagy Fahey Ross - died on Dec. 7. Her obituary said she had moved to Jackson Hole just a week earlier.


Avalanche warning for southwestern Montana mountains

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) - An avalanche warning is in effect for several mountainous areas in western Montana and western Wyoming.

The Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center rates the danger of avalanche as "high" in the Bridger Range north of Bozeman, the Gallatin and Madison mountain ranges south of Bozeman, the Lionhead area west of West Yellowstone and the mountains north of Cooke City.

A North Dakota man died in a weekend avalanche near Cooke City.

The avalanche danger also was rated high Tuesday in areas above 6,000 feet in the Swan Range in northwestern Montana.

Avalanche warnings are also in place for unstable snowpack in the mountains south of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.


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