Nov 14, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff WriterA Lander-area man faces life in prison for firearms and assault charges because he already is a convicted felon four times over.
Witnesses allege that Harold Dean Porter threatened his wife with a pistol on or about Oct. 25 after a night of drinking at their home at 240 Lyons Valley Road.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives reported finding 11 firearms in Porter's home. On Oct. 29, he was charged with aggravated assault and battery, use or possession of a firearm by a person convicted of a felony offense, and possession, manufacture or disposition of a deadly weapon with unlawful intent.
Combined, those crimes normally have a maximum penalty of 18 years in prison and a $16,000 fine. A penalty enhancement for having two or more prior felony convictions, however, means Porter faces a life sentence if convicted.
Charging documents state Porter was convicted of burglary in 1977 in New Mexico, of felon in possession in 1993 in Wyoming, of aggravated robbery in 1985 in Wyoming, and of forgery in 1999 in Wyoming.
Lander Circuit Court Judge Robert B. Denhardt bound the case over to District Court on Thursday after finding prosecutors had enough evidence to try Porter.
The sheriff's office investigation started when Porter's 15-year-old grandson told a counselor that Porter used a firearm to threaten the grandson and his sibling. The grandchildren are minors and identifying information about them was redacted in court documents.
Porter's wife, Bonita Porter, later told sheriff's deputy Bruce Erlandson about the incident. Porter said her grandchildren were sleeping in their room Oct. 25 while her husband and his friend were drinking and became intoxicated.
She got into an argument with her husband, and he got a gun and pointed it at her. Bonita Porter said she screamed, and her grandson came from his bedroom and stood in the room she and her husband were in.
Harold Porter pointed the gun at the grandson and told him to get back to bed, Bonita Porter said.
Erlandson spoke with one of the grandsons in a separate interview, and he confirmed the story. The boy said his brother and he were sleeping when he heard his grandmother shout, "Boys, get out here, Grandpa's going to shoot me."
Sheriff's office deputies arrest Harold Porter on Oct. 25 and seized a revolver they think was used in the assault.
At the Porter's residence, ATF agents found one shotgun, eight rifles and two revolvers, including a Harrington and Richardson .22-caliber revolver. Bonita Porter and a grandson both identified the Harrington and Richardson revolver as the one Harold Porter used Oct. 25, according to court documents.
When deputies seized it, the gun was loaded with six, .22-caliber hollow point rounds.
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