Torrington man pleads guilty to felony possession of a firearm

Rhett Breedlove
Posted 6/19/24

TORRINGTON – The Goshen County District Court met in session Monday afternoon at 1 p.m. for the change of plea hearing of Torrington man, Vincent Plasencio.

After having initially pleaded …

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Torrington man pleads guilty to felony possession of a firearm


TORRINGTON – The Goshen County District Court met in session Monday afternoon at 1 p.m. for the change of plea hearing of Torrington man, Vincent Plasencio.

After having initially pleaded not guilty to two felony charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon as well as felony possession of a firearm, Plasencio reached a plea agreement with the State of Wyoming to plead guilty to the third charge in exchange for the first two to be dropped.

District Court Judge Ed Buchanan presided over the proceedings with Goshen County and Prosecuting Attorney Eric Boyer representing the State of Wyoming.

Public defender Denny Harts was present in representing the defense of Plasencio.

“Mr. Plasencio, you may recall going over your constitutional rights in this matter as well as the charges in this case,” Judge Buchanan began. “It looks like you have three counts. Count one is aggravated assault and battery with a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison. Count two is another count of aggravated assault and battery, and count three is [the] use or possession of a firearm of a person who has been convicted of a felony offense. You previously entered a not-guilty plea in this case. Have you had an opportunity to discuss this case with your representation?”

Plasencio assured Judge Buchanan he had indeed had ample time to discuss his case with his public defense counsel.

Judge Buchanan continued further and reminded Plasencio, once a guilty plea has been entered and accepted, it cannot be taken back and typically has no effect on sentencing. The district judge spoke in the direction of the defendant and of the long-term consequences of being a convicted felon in the state of Wyoming.

It should be noted additionally, Plasencio was already charged and convicted of a previous felony in Nebraska for armed robbery. 

“As I told you before, you are presumed to be innocent, which carries with you throughout these proceedings,” Judge Buchanan continued. “Now today if we are going to have a change of plea you need to know if you change it from not guilty to guilty there won’t be a trial of any kind. You also would wave your right to a speedy trial, and the state would not need to meet its requirement of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Going further, you give up your right to remain silent, and you have to answer questions of a factual basis to support your guilty plea. Remember there are consequences to a guilty plea which can be impactful to your civil rights.

“As a convicted felon, you would be required to give a DNA sample to the Department of Criminal Investigation for their database for past, present, or future crimes,” Judge Buchanan continued. “The important thing I want you to know under Wyoming criminal procedure is the attorneys are going to argue for whatever they want with this case, but are going to leave it up to the court to decide what sentence you will get. The big point here is if you receive a sentence you don’t like or is different from what you and your attorney argued for, you cannot withdraw your guilty plea. If you get something you don’t like or didn’t expect, you’re still going to be stuck with your guilty plea. Is it your decision to plead guilty to count three for felony use or possession of a firearm?”

Plasencio answered Judge Buchanan in the affirmative.

In the State of Wyoming, a felon convicted of possession of a firearm carries with it a maximum penalty of up to three years in prison, fines of up to $5,000, or both.

As mandatory under Wyoming state statute, Plasencio was required under oath to answer questions of a factual basis by both defense and prosecution in order for his plea to be accepted by the Goshen County District Court.

The defendant was questioned first by his own counsel.

“Were you in Goshen County on March 9, of 2024?” Harts asked his client. “At that point in time, did you have in your possession a firearm? Have you been convicted of a prior felony in Nebraska? So, you would agree you were a felon in possession of a firearm?”

Plasencio affirmed each question.

“Now that he is facing a maximum sentence of three years, his bond was initially $30,000 cash, Your Honor,” Harts continued. “We think a bond reduction would be appropriate, as it would allow him to get out and start working if there were any sort of restitution or fines from the court. This way he would have the ability to make some money, and also has a baby on the way. He has a lot of family from here and is a local from Torrington, so he presents no flight risk here. A more appropriate bond we would ask for would be $7,500 pending sentencing, as he does have the ability to get a job fairly quickly.”

After hearing questioning as well as bond wishes from the defense, the court heard arguments from the prosecution accordingly.

“The state will dismiss the two aggravated assault charges, and will agree to an admission of probation violation by possessing a firearm,” Boyer stated. “Following this hearing today, we the parties, will argue sentencing, and the state will deem what is appropriate from probation and violation of this case. The state as part of this is not going to pursue the potential offender status, and this case is one both parties agree should be dealt with. I would suggest if the court deemed it appropriate, there will be a warrant for this case. It is the issue of probation and parole where we have a plea agreement.”

After hearing opposing arguments and wishes from both sides of the case, Judge Buchanan once again spoke in the direction of the defendant.

In response to Plasencio’s wish to have a significant bond reduction by nearly $23,000, Judge Buchanan deemed the request to be highly inappropriate given the violent nature of the March incident.

“Here’s the issue the court has with this,” Judge Buchanan said. “I realize under the plea agreement counts one and two were dismissed. However, what I am looking at from the affidavit of probable cause is a drawn deadly weapon against two other people out in a very public place. A place where members of the public would be around. Folks just being around would’ve been around you when this was going on. This concerns the court, and it concerns the court you had a weapon when you know you’re not supposed to have one. Again, you were running around in public threatening people. I’m not going to say you are a flight risk, but from my perspective from the underlying facts in this case, you possessed a deadly weapon when you have a conviction out of Nebraska for aggravated robbery. I need something beyond someone saying, ‘I won’t be a danger to the community.’ Sitting here I don’t know you and might say I don’t think you’re a danger. But with what you are being charged with and the count you plead guilty to; I do have concerns about the danger aspect. So, I’m not going to reduce [your] bond and you will be detained pending sentencing. It doesn’t make sense for you to be out at this point until we have everything else taken care of. The rule says you stay ‘unless’, and you certainly don’t have the ‘unless.’”

The court stood in recess at 1:32 p.m.