Apr 13, 2012 The Associated Press

Sentence upheld in Sheridan murder

CHEYENNE (AP) -- The Wyoming Supreme Court has upheld a life prison sentence for a Sheridan teenager convicted of murder in a home invasion killing.

The court on Thursday rejected Dennis Poitra Jr.'s claim that his conviction in the August 2009 killing of Sheridan businessman Robert Ernst violated Poitra's constitutional rights.

Poitra was 19 at the time of Ernst's killing and is one of three Sheridan teens sentenced to life in prison in the crime.

The Supreme Court ruled against Poitra's arguments that he was unable to control his behavior because he had taken antipsychotic medication shortly before the killing.

The court also denied Poitra's arguments that his trial should have been held outside of Sheridan because of heavy publicity.

Ex-hospital chief denies embezzlement

POWELL (AP) -- The former CEO of the Powell hospital has denied allegations in a civil suit that he embezzled nearly $848,000 from the hospital's management company.

Attorneys for Paul D. Cardwell filed their response on Tuesday. They asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit filed by HealthTech Management Services.

Cardwell also faces federal criminal charges including fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The criminal charges allege Cardwell arranged for the hospital to pay a co-defendant, Michael J. Plake, to recruit physicians and other staff. The indictment claims no work was done but that Plake kept about 25 percent of the money and kicked back the rest to Cardwell.

Both pleaded not guilty. A trial is scheduled for June 4 in Cheyenne.

Roads open early after mild spring

RAWLINS (AP) -- Seasonal roads have opened early in Carbon County because of the mild spring.

Road superintendent Bill Nation says workers are about a month ahead of schedule in clearing snow from roads closed over the winter.

Nation said roads that go into the forest are open but, if it snows, they would only be passable in high-profile, four-wheel-drive vehicles.

That could be the case soon. Snow and windy weather is expected across much of southeast Wyoming from late Friday.

Power plant might convert

ROCK SPRINGS (AP) -- One of three coal-fired units at the Naughton Power Plant near Kemmerer could be switched to burn by natural gas.

The power plant is owned by PacifiCorp and company spokesman Dave Eskelsen said the newest unit's emissions controls are up for review by the Environmental Protection Agency. He said it would be less expensive to switch it to natural gas than to install new emissions controls for coal by 2014.

Eskelsen said the company isn't planning to install any new coal-fired units in the future because of the "politics and economics" of air quality regulations.

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