NEWS BRIEFS for Monday, April 15, 2019

Granderson charges still pending as draft approaches

LARAMIE (WNE) — With two weeks until the 2019 NFL Draft, it seems that the top prospect from the University of Wyoming, defensive end Carl Granderson, will still have a sexual assault case pending against him on draft day.

Granderson is currently facing third-degree sexual assault charges after he allegedly molested two women who were sleeping at his apartment on South 23rd Street in November.

The incident occurred the day after UW’s football season ended.

He pleaded “not guilty” to the charges Friday at an arraignment in Albany County’s district court.

The “not guilty” plea itself, however, gives no indication of whether Granderson actually intends to assert he’s innocent of the crime. The overwhelming majority of defendants who plead not guilty at their arraignment later plead guilty once prosecutors and defense attorney have hashed out a plea deal.

Under state statute, prosecutors must typically bring a case to trial within 180 days of the defendant’s arraignment.

A procedural plea of “not guilty” merely sets a deadline for a trial and, typically, spurs plea negotiations.

Before the charges were filed, Granderson was projected as a mid-round draft pick. One of the NFL’s own analysts is still predicting that he’ll be drafted, but in the sixth round.

A month ago, Granderson had a strong showing at the NFL Scouting Combine, where he declined to discuss the charges with reporters. Had he been convicted of the sexual assault charge at the time, he would have been ineligible to participate.

Two women reported to the UW Police Department on Nov. 26 that Granderson “had touched them sexually, without their permission, while they were sleeping” that same day.


Ex-VA staffer implicated in baseball bat attack ID’d

CHEYENNE (WNE) — A former employee who allegedly walked into the Cheyenne Veterans Affairs Medical Center with a baseball bat and attacked two staff members Thursday has been identified.

Benjamin Delany, 23, of Cheyenne could face federal charges after his arrest for assault, trespassing and disorderly conduct.

The attack took place around 11:45a.m. at the hospital’s community center.

According to the Laramie County Sheriff’s Department booking sheet, Delany assaulted an employee using both a red and blue bat and a closed fist.

After the first employee subdued him, the report states, Delany then assaulted a medical doctor by striking him in the face using his fist.

The two staff members suffered minor injuries and were treated at the VA and released, according to Sam House, the VA’s public information officer. House said both staff members returned to work Friday.

House confirmed that Delany is a former employee of the facility, but declined to release further information.

Cheyenne VA Police arrested Delany within minutes of the incident and transferred him to the sheriff’s department after he underwent a CT scan and other treatment at the VA’s emergency room.

According to Capt. Linda Gesell, spokeswoman for the Laramie County Sheriff’s Department, Delany is being held at the Laramie County jail pending transfer to the custody of federal marshals.

The community center entrance, which was closed after Thursday’s incident, remains closed pending a security review, House said.


Man pleads not guilty to drug charge from 90-pound pot bust

RAWLINS (WNE) — Michael Andrew Young has pleaded not guilty to a mixture of felony and misdemeanor charges resulting from a Feb. 2 bust which discovered more than 90 pounds of marijuana in his car.

According to court records, the bust occurred after Wyoming Highway Patrol officer Andy Martinez watched Young’s red SUV blow by at 90 miles an hour. Despite Young’s speedy cross-country travel, suspended license and drugs in tow, he immediately pulled over. 

During this initial exchange between officer and alleged drug trafficker, the odor of marijuana permeated the air. The oppressive smell pushed Martinez to inquire about the odor, to which Young responded he had several joints in a cigarette box. With this admission in hand, Martinez arrested Young and signaled for backup to help search the vehicle. 

The center console yielded the first hint this stop may be more than a simple personal stash of the marijuana. Law enforcement officers found plastic bags filled with marijuana, though the handful of bags paled in comparison to the weed stored in the back seat. 

The back seats were laid down and had eight bags of marijuana visible in addition to an entire box filled with sealed packages of the drug. The enormous haul of drugs simply sat on the seat, easily visible once officers opened the door. 

The final tally: 90 pounds of marijuana for delivery, two grams of meth, and five THC oil cartridges found in Young’s vehicle. 

Young pleaded not guilty to a collection of charges that could net him more than 17 years in prison and $22,000 in fines.


Shepard, Catchpole to receive honorary doctoral degrees

CASPER (WNE) — Judy Shepard, the mother of Matthew Shepard and cofounder of the foundation that bears his name, will join a former Wyoming state superintendent in being awarded honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Wyoming next month, the school announced Friday. 

Shepard and Judy Catchpole, who served as the top educator in the state from 1995-2003, will receive doctor of humane letters degrees at the university’s commencement events May 18. Both women are UW alumni who graduated from the school with degrees in education. Recipients of honorary degrees can be nominated by UW alumni, current or former trustees, or faculty members. 

A longtime Casper resident, Shepard founded the Matthew Shepard Foundation in December 1998, two months after her son was beaten and left for dead tied to a fence outside of Laramie. 

Along with the foundation’s other pro-LGBTQ activism, the group helped pass the federal Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Protection Act. The law extends federal hate crime statutes to include a victim’s perceived gender, sexual orientation, disability or gender identity. 

Catchpole was twice elected the top educator in Wyoming. She headed the state’s Education Department during years of seismic changes to public education here, including the Campbell County Supreme Court decisions, which transformed how schools were funded and built in Wyoming. 

The press release also notes that she “ushered in” other reforms, including to assessments, content standards, charter school policy and teacher certification. She also served on national educational governing bodies. Catchpole previously served on the Natrona County school board, according to the university, and started her career as a preschool teacher.