NEWS BRIEFS for Friday, Feb. 1, 2019

Parents of New Year’s baby charged with felony child abuse

LARAMIE (WNE) — A Laramie couple, Kaycee and Kelvie Easton, was arrested last week for almost three years worth of child abuse.

The Eastons were featured in the Laramie Boomerang earlier this month after becoming the parents of the first baby born at Ivinson Memorial Hospital in 2019. Their new daughter is their fourth child.

However, staff at Albany County School District No. 1 approached the Laramie Police Department officer Elizabeth Smith after becoming concerned about some of bruising suffered by one of the Eastons’ children who said the bruising came after Kaycee Easton held her down on the floor.

The Eastons gave conflicting accounts of how the bruising occurred.

Smith already knew of another incident in which Kaycee Easton apparently restrained a child for two hours.

Numerous records indicate both parents “vilified, verbally attacked and scapegoated” one of the children.

Smith’s investigation found that the parents sometimes withheld medical or psychiatric treatment, and would remove their children from hospitals despite the advice of medical staff.

A police affidavit details six pages worth of extensive child abuse.

Louis Farley, a physician at IMH, said that the parents’ behavior is “outside of a healthy or normal realm,” according to the affidavit.

The Eastons have each been charged with two counts of felony child abuse. Both have been released on signature bonds.


Groups praise decision to pull parcels from lease

ROCK SPRINGS (WNE) — Conservation groups expressed their appreciation to the Bureau of Land Management after it decided to take off eight proposed oil and gas lease parcels, six whole and two partial, within the Red Desert to Hoback mule deer migration corridor. 

The BLM released the March 2019 oil and gas lease sale list, which includes 140 parcels totaling about 148,909 acres, on Wednesday. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department recommended pulling the eight parcels until the Rock Springs Resource Management Plan revision was completed. 

The BLM is scheduled to release a draft of the plan’s final environmental impact statement in May, according to the BLM’s October 2018 National Environmental Policy Act Hotsheet. 

“The BLM decision to defer leases, wholly and partially, is the correct decision,” Wyoming Wildlife Federation Policy Director Joy Bannon said on Thursday. 

“Smart from the start strategy and management is critical to conserving these migration corridors,” she said. “We applaud the Wyoming Game and Fish for their hard work to safeguard these vital habitats.” 

Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership Wyoming Field Representative Nick Dobric said the group was thankful for the BLM’s decision. 

”We appreciate the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s increased leadership to request deferring energy leases in recognized big game migration corridors until appropriate lease stipulations can be applied,” Dobric said. “We also appreciate their attention to stopover areas, where deer spent 95 percent of their migration and are used spring and fall, year after year.”


Shutdown delays man’s burial

RIVERTON (WNE) — The unclaimed remains of a man who died Jan. 7 finally will be interred this week - slightly later than usual due to the partial federal government shutdown that ended Friday.

Fremont County Coroner Mark Stratmoen said the federal government shutdown made it difficult to determine whether the deceased - Richard Arthur Robinson, 61 - was a veteran.

The man's veteran status determines where he is laid to rest. The unclaimed remains of honorably discharged veterans are buried at the Wyoming Veterans Cemetery in Casper, while others are interred in Mountain View Cemetery in Riverton.

On Tuesday, Stratmoen said Robinson was not a veteran "as far as we know. There have been some issues with verifications of federal things due to the government shutdown," Stratmoen said.

He added that, even though the government is back up and running now, there still is a month-long backlog of work to sort through at the federal level that has slowed processing of information.

"The government may have gone back to work Monday, but now they have over a month's worth of stuff (to do)," he said. "So we can't verify."

He has decided to move forward with the burial regardless.


Trial dates set in cover-up of superintendent’s accident

TORRINGTON (WNE) – Trial dates have been set for two Goshen County School District No. 1 employees as well as former district superintendent Jean Chrostoski after the defendants allegedly conspired to cover up a vehicle accident involving Chrostoski in late December. 

Loreen Fritzler and Kim Cawthra, who are both administrative assistants at the GCSD No. 1 central office, are facing single misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to interfere with a law enforcement officer. 

Fritzler’s trial has been scheduled for March 11 at 1:30 p.m. Cawthra will stand trial the same day at 2:30 p.m. Both defendants have pleaded not guilty. 

Chrostoski’s case will be heard by Eighth Circuit Judge Randal Arp on Feb. 13 at 10:30 a.m. She has been charged with a pair of misdemeanors; one count of failure to notify law enforcement of a vehicle accident, and one charge of conspiracy to commit interference with a police officer. 

Chrostoski announced her retirement from her superintendent post in January during a special meeting of the Goshen County Schools Board of Trustees. Her retirement is effective as of Feb. 1. 

In a letter read during the meeting, Chrostoski said she has been “struggling with this decision since I turned 60 in September, and have spent the last few months trying to determine when the right time would be to retire.” 

However, Chrostoski told the Casper Star-Tribune the crash and the ensuing investigation played a part in her decision to retire, though her decision wasn’t “entirely related” to the investigation. 


Cryptocurrency bill passes Senate

CHEYENNE (WNE) — A bill that would make Wyoming the first to classify digital assets, including crypto-currency, as legal property passed the Wyoming Senate 28-1 with one excused Thursday.

Senate File 125, sponsored by Sen. Tara Nethercott, R-Cheyenne, would establish property rights for owners of cryptocurrency and other "virtual assets" under commercial law, clarifying the legal status of digital money. It also helps banks hold these assets in trusts.

It would subject cryptocurrency to some of the same rules as money by expanding existing laws.

The legislation is one of eight bills designed to attract blockchain and other new technology companies to the state.

Right now, most state laws don't provide legal clarity on the status of cryptocurrency under Uniform Commercial Code. This legislation would change that, as well as develop a roadmap for other states looking to do the same.

Caitlin Long, Wyoming Blockchain Coalition co-chairwoman, said she hopes larger companies such as CitiGroup and Fidelity Investments would provide, say, 401(k) services for digital assets, something she said those organizations have expressed interest in. 

This could attract new business and tax revenue to the state, she said. 

"We've had eight companies reach out to us already," Long said. "Most of those are in the category of successful blockchain companies."

It would also allow banks to hold digital assets in trusts with ease. While customers could not deposit bitcoin in the bank itself, they could keep it in their personal trust as property. 

"It adds value and legitimacy to the currency by giving financial institutions and businesses the ability to use it more flexibly in ways they are already familiar with," Nethercott said.