Clyde pleads guilty, faces life terms for shootingsOct 2, 2015 By Eric Blom, Staff Writer
Roy Allen Clyde will be sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty Thursday to first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder.
Clyde was convicted of killing Stallone Trosper, 29, and critically wounding James "Sonny" Goggles, 50, on July 18 at the Center of Hope detoxification and rehabilitation center in Riverton.
In exchange for the guilty pleas, Fremont County Attorney Pat LeBrun agreed to long, consecutive sentences for Clyde: life in prison without parole for killing Stallone Trosper, and life in prison with the possibility of parole for attempting to kill Goggles.
"Let me be as blunt about this as I can," District Court Judge Norman E. Young told Clyde during Thursday's hearing. "As I understand it, you will serve life in prison. You will never get out of prison."
In a statement, LeBrun said he had considered pursuing the death penalty for Clyde but had decided to pursue life in prison instead. Over the past 10 years, no jury in Wyoming has authorized the death penalty, he noted, and over the past 50 years all but two death-penalty sentences in the state later were overturned.
"The death penalty is appropriate in certain circumstances," LeBrun said. "However in this particular case there is no reasonable possibility that ... Clyde would ever be subjected to it."
He added that the state would incur a "great expense" if it pursued the death penalty.
The resolution to Clyde's case has not brought full closure to the family of his victims.
Trosper's uncle, James Trosper, said the possibility that Clyde would face life in prison is "good," but James Trosper did not think Clyde told the whole truth in court.
During Thursday's hearing in Lander District Court, Clyde said he was planning to kill transient people --or "park rangers" --on July 18.
"Park ranger" is a derogatory term for transient people in Riverton. People often use it as a label for intoxicated individuals who spend time at City Park. Some believe the phrase specifically refers to American Indians.
Clyde said he first went to Riverton City Park on July 18, but he did not find any park rangers there, so he moved on to the Center of Hope.
"Would you agree with me that, regardless of race, you were specifically looking to kill transient people in the city of Riverton?" Clyde's lawyer Nick Beduhn asked.
His voice cracking, Clyde said he agreed.
In an interview, James Trosper pointed out that there is a homeless shelter across a street from City Park.
"If he was looking for transient people, why didn't he go there?" James Trosper asked. "Why did he go to a treatment facility and kill someone there that wasn't transient, that was Native American?"
James Trosper believes misconceptions about American Indians by non-Indians can generate animosity.
"Education is key for us to understand white people and for white people to understand us," he said. "Before people assume and resent and judge us, they should try to understand us."
The July shootings stoked tensions in Riverton and created a tense atmosphere for weeks. Online threats of violence during the Fremont County Fair in late August led the Riverton Police Department to put its officers on high alert and increase its presence at the annual event. The city of Riverton also began considering added security measures at municipal facilities after employees said they were worried for their safety.
Leaders from the Northern Arapahoe Tribe met July 29 with officials at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., to seek a federal hate crime investigation into the incident.
Hate crime designations do not exist in Wyoming.
Federal officials began a preliminary examination into the case in August in order to determine whether it should be investigated as a hate crime. On Wednesday, U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman John Powell said the review is ongoing.
"(The DOJ is) monitoring the prosecution locally," he said. "They haven't made any decisions at this point that we're aware of."
The shooting and ensuing tension also spurred efforts toward reconciliation and improved relations between American Indians and non-Indians in Riverton.
Hundreds of people from different communities and races joined a march to support peace Aug. 8. Also in August, the Eagle Staff Runners traditional running organization ran 250 miles from Riverton to the Crow Reservation in Montana, the site of another shooting, to promote healing in both communities.
Local government and tribal leaders have planned community meetings in response to the Center of Hope shooting to encourage communication and understanding. The first community dialogue meeting is scheduled for 6-8 p.m. Oct. 21 at Rocky Mountain Hall in Fort Washakie. Other meetings will be held Nov. 18 and Dec. 9 at different locations.
The Riverton Police Department is creating a community relations ombudsman position and began seeking applicants in September. Officials said the employee will serve as a local point of contact for people who perceive bias or discrimination in Riverton.
-- Staff writer Katie Roenigk contributed to this report.