NEWS BRIEFS for Tuesday, June 18, 2019


Kidnapping suspect pleads not guilty

CHEYENNE (WNE) — A Cheyenne man accused of kidnapping a 1-year-old child and assaulting the child’s pregnant mother pleaded not guilty Monday to all felony charges.

Mijito Johnson, 26, is facing two felony counts of aggravated assault against a pregnant woman and one count of interference with custody of a child.

Johnson was arrested at his brother’s house in Aurora, Colorado, on April 11 after allegedly striking his pregnant girlfriend multiple times and kidnapping her son. 

During his arraignment in Laramie County District Court, Johnson’s attorney asked District Judge Thomas Campbell to release Johnson on his own recognizance at the request of his girlfriend, the alleged victim in the case. The woman is set to give birth to Johnson’s child this week, his attorney said.

Campbell rejected any changes to Johnson’s bond, and noted that even if he was released, Johnson would be barred from all contact with the alleged victim per the terms of his bond agreement.

According to court documents, a Cheyenne Police officer was dispatched to a possible child custody incident around 3:12 p.m. April 11.

Johnson got into an argument with his live-in girlfriend over a car seat, which quickly became physical. The two began to struggle over the child, and Johnson allegedly struck the child’s mother in the head with an unknown object, causing her to briefly black out and fall to the ground.

The woman told officers Johnson left in his vehicle, but soon returned, eventually fleeing the area holding the child in his arms while driving the vehicle.

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Arizona man pleads guilty in 2018 assault

POWELL (WNE) — An Arizona truck driver has admitted that he attacked a female passenger and then left her bleeding in a ditch outside Thermopolis in April 2018. 

At a hearing in Hot Springs County District Court last month, Hugo A. Luna Aguero, 46, pleaded guilty to a felony count of attempted second-degree murder. 

Luna’s plea came as part of a deal with the Hot Springs County Attorney’s Office, in which he agreed to serve a 20- to 30-year prison sentence for the crime. 

In exchange, prosecutors dismissed a separate count of kidnapping and reduced the original charge of attempted first-degree (or premeditated) murder to second-degree (alleging he acted “purposely and maliciously, but without premeditation”). 

A sentencing hearing is set for July 22 in Thermopolis. District Court Judge Bobbi Overfield will formally decide at that time whether to approve the agreement, but it’s extremely rare for a judge to throw out a negotiated sentence. 

At his change of plea hearing in May, Luna testified that he’d gotten upset with the woman who’d been riding with him, the Thermopolis Independent Record reported. Luna said he pushed the woman to the ground and “used a box cutter to cut a deep gash in the side of her neck,” the Independent Record reported. 

The woman reportedly woke up in a ditch along Wyo. Highway 120, north of Thermopolis, and then flagged down a passing vehicle. Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation Special Agent Brady Patrick said the woman had cuts to her face and neck, plus ligature marks and hemorrhaging in her eye that indicated she’d been strangled. 

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Committee hears testimony in support of Laramie’s Cooper House

LARAMIE (WNE) — In the year that the University of Wyoming’s Housing Task Force has been working on the future of the school’s new dormitories, the committee hasn’t received much pushback on any of the ideas that have been floated at their meetings.

Monday was different.

Nearly 100 people came to this week’s task force meeting to protest the idea of demolishing Cooper House for the placement of dorm building.

Residents from across Wyoming had been mobilized in recent weeks after hearing the task force had discussed the possibility of tearing down the building.

The task force heard more than an hour of public comment on Monday, all from people who were opposed to Cooper House being demolished.

Many told stories about their own personal history with the building.

The Cooper House has housed the university’s American Studies program in 1994.

It was built in the 1920s for an English aristocrat and local architect Wilbur Hitchcock was commissioned to design the building.

“It’s one of the few historic buildings in Laramie that’s facing the community, so to tear it down and put a dorm there would just make the campus sterile and uninteresting,” Patrick Sheehy said Monday.

House Speaker Steve Harshman, R-Casper, chairs the task force and made a similar statement about Cooper House on Monday.

“I don’t think the Cooper House is going anywhere,” he said.

Harshman downplayed the idea that there was ever a serious possibility of removing the building.

“Only one person on the committee has said we should tear it down, and I’m not even sure they said it publicly,” he said.

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Wyoming this Weekend, June 21-23

By The Wyoming News Exchange

• Mud volleyball, a car show and concerts are all on the menu this weekend as Glenrock’s annual Deer Creek Days tops the list of events around Wyoming. The three-day celebration, now in its 40th year, opens Friday with a free concert, followed throughout the weekend by a parade, ranch rodeo, golf tournament, ice cream social, brewfest and more. Saturday’s activities will be capped with a concert by country musician Tris Munsick.

Other activities scheduled for the weekend include:

• The Lincoln Highway Association Conference ending Friday in Rock Springs;

• The “Battle of the Gravel” cycling camp in Savery through Sunday;

• The Donkey Creek Music Festival in Gillette on Saturday;

• The Summer Solstice Celebration 2019 in Laramie on Friday;

• The Medicine Bow Lodge annual dance in Saratoga on Friday;

• The Eastern Shoshone Indian Days, Powwow and Indian Rodeo and Relay Races in Fort Washakie Friday through Sunday;

• Cheyenne’s Superday on Saturday;

• A tour of the “Hole in the Wall” area near Kaycee on Saturday, and

• A 5K Color Fun Run in Dubois on Saturday.

For more information on these and other events, please visit the Wyoming Tourism Division’s website at TravelWyoming.com

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