State Briefs

Colorado man arrested in Powell charged with murder

CODY (WNE) — A Colorado man has been charged with murder after arriving at the Powell Police Department on Nov. 27 with the body of his girlfriend in the trunk of his car.

After Jonathan Akin, 22, turned himself in around midday, Powell officers opened the trunk to find a bare leg sticking out from a blanket, according to the affidavit, which also said Sgt. Chad Miner reached out and touched the body, finding it cold and lifeless.

Akin is now contesting his extradition back to Colorado on a warrant for first degree murder charges, Park County attorney Bryan Skoric said. He will face his next extradition review hearing 9 a.m. Friday in circuit court.

After his first extradition hearing held in front of Judge Bruce Waters on Nov. 30, his bail was set at $100,000 cash only. He is in custody at the Park County Law Enforcement Center.

According to the Colorado warrant for his arrest, Akin admitted to killing Autumn Rivera on Nov. 25 at their Thornton, Colo., apartment, but said he “blacked out” and did not remember how the murder occurred. The affidavit states Akin was accompanied by his mother, Deaver resident Maria Seratt when he turned himself in at the police station. The affidavit said Akin asked to have an attorney present when he told officers what occurred.

After spending the evening leading up to incident consuming a large quantity of alcohol with his girlfriend, Akin said one of his final memories before his blackout was cutting up fruit, the Adams County warrant affidavit said.

Jury returns mixed verdict in assault trial

GILLETTE (WNE) — After deliberating for nearly five hours, jurors reached a verdict in the trial of Terry Neidlinger, 48, last week.

On Friday, jurors acquitted him of charges related to his alleged May 28 attack of a woman but found him guilty of forcing her to have sex with him on June 8 and of taking videos of her in the shower.

Neidlinger faces five to 50 years in prison for one count of first-degree sexual assault and a maximum of two years in prison for each of two counts of voyeurism.

District Judge Michael N. “Nick” Deegan hasn’t yet set a sentencing date.

During a three-day trial, the woman testified she went to the emergency room on June 8, where she told a sheriff’s deputy she had been sleeping in Neidlinger’s Pierce Street home when he woke her and told her to get into his bed or he would knock out her teeth and cut out her tongue. She got into the bed, where a short time later he forced her to have sex.

While at the emergency room, the woman completed a sexual assault forensic exam, which revealed significant injuries that a doctor and nurse described during the trial.

Evidence from the forensic exam also was sent to the state crime lab, which concluded that sperm DNA found inside the woman matched Neidlinger’s.

While members of the Sheriff’s Office were investigating the sexual assault, they found two videos on Neidlinger’s phone of the woman in the shower. On the witness stand, the woman said she never gave Neidlinger permission to take the videos.

The jury acquitted Neidlinger of first-degree sexual assault and aggravated assault.

Committee rejects bill to require monthly mineral tax payments

GILLETTE (WNE) — The Joint Revenue Committee has voted down a proposed bill that would have required mineral production companies to pay their ad valorem taxes on a monthly basis starting in 2022 instead of every 18 months as they do now.

The bill, which was viewed by some state lawmakers as a possible remedy to the millions of dollars owed to Wyoming counties in unpaid mineral production taxes, failed on a 9-4 vote Friday, with Campbell County Republicans Rep. Timothy Hallinan and Sen. Jeff Wasserburger among those who voted no.

Wasserburger said now is not the right time for this bill.

“Times are not good in the coal corporations. We’ve had several bankruptcies, we have a coal corporation struggling today, we have one for sale. I’ve never seen that in 35 years in Campbell County,” he said.

Campbell County Commissioner Rusty Bell, who testified to the committee Friday, said he wasn’t surprised the bill was voted down.

Legislators and those in the mineral production industry acknowledge there’s a problem with counties collecting their owed taxes, Bell said.

“But when we have a remedy that puts our industries at an economic disadvantage, it really is very difficult for commissioners and legislators to support it,” he said. “If it fixes a problem but puts someone out of business, then you just create a bigger problem.”

The largest issue legislators had with the proposed bill was that if it were signed into law, there eventually would come a time where the regulations would overlap and companies would have to simultaneously “pay the 18-month tax and the monthly payment,” Bell said.

Most companies are paying their taxes on time and they shouldn’t be punished because of “the bad actors that are causing a problem,” he said.