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Jury finds man guilty on one charge in store robbery
Jul 17, 2014 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer
Curtis Oldman of Lander could face 10 years in prison for his role in the Nov. 10 crime.
A jury found a Lander man guilty Wednesday on one charge but not guilty on a second for participating in a Nov. 10 robbery at Riverton's Walmart. The defendant, Curtis Oldman, could now see up to 10 years in prison for his role in the crime.
"The men and women in law enforcement developed the case and brought it to our office," Fremont County Attorney Michael Bennett said. "We are happy to bring a successful prosecution to the jury and certainly the jury returning the verdict they did -- we thought that was a successful resolution to the case."
At 7 p.m., the jury foreman announced the panel of 12 citizens found Oldman guilty of conspiracy to commit robbery but not guilty of accessory before the fact to aggravated robbery.
In a case laid out over the course of two days, prosecutors brought evidence to show Oldman, then 27, and his brother Adrian Sixfeathers, then 16, conspired to rob a woman at the big box store. Oldman's girlfriend, Teisha Underwood, already pleaded guilty to charges for being the getaway driver.
The difference between Oldman's two charges is whether he knew Sixfeathers was going to use a simulated deadly weapon, an air pistol, during the robbery, Bennett said. He was found not guilty of the charge that would have required the defendant to know about the weapon ahead of time, accessory before the fact.
In emotional testimony, the victim, Jean Gilkey, described how Sixfeathers used the weapon and said she feared for her life during the ordeal.
Gilkey works at Walmart in the bakery but was off the afternoon of Nov. 10 and was shopping for groceries, she said. She had reached her car and was loading her purchases when a young, Native American man wearing all black and a bandana approached her, she said.
After pausing to recompose herself and dab away tears, Gilkey continued.
"He pointed the gun at my temple and said he would shoot me if I didn't give him my purse," she said. "He grabbed my purse and ran."
She thought the gun was real.
"I was frightened, afraid he was going to shoot me," she said. "I thought I was going to die."
Defense attorney Gordan Ellis did not dispute the robbery occurred but disputed his client knew anything about it beforehand.
"What we're going to show is Curtis Oldman has just as much right to be surprised as anyone," Ellis said in his opening statement. "Curtis ... thought they were going there (to Walmart) to buy food."
Prosecuting a case that hinges on the mindsets and knowledge of people involved is difficult, Bennett said in an interview. Crucial evidence came from surveillance footage showing the crime taking place and testimony from Riverton Police Department officers.
"They worked very, very hard to bring a thorough investigation to us for prosecution, and then they were thoroughly prepared in providing their testimony," Bennett said. "That's just rolling up their sleeves and putting work into a case."
Sixfeathers, Underwood and Oldman testified. The three mainly presented their recollections of the events, and the jury was left to make their own inferences about what they were thinking, Bennett said.
Evidently, jurors were convinced the robbery was not a total surprise to Oldman, but they did not believe beyond a reasonable doubt he knew about the gun.
Fremont County deputy attorneys Tim Hancock and Dan Stebner represented the state in the case.
They both have trial experience but are relatively young attorneys, Bennett said. Having them prosecute the Oldman case strengthened the Fremont County Attorney's Office, Bennett said.
"It's a wonderful opportunity for them, taking a case like this to trial, and the ability to know they can go to seasoned trial attorneys with their questions -- that's what our office has now," he said.
They workshopped the case with the new chief deputy county attorney Bob Rose, who has 30 years of trial experience, Bennett said.
Oldman now will face sentencing, but a date for the hearing has not been set.
Sixfeathers was prosecuted in the juvenile court, and further information on his case is sealed. In March, Underwood pleaded guilty to accessory before the fact for driving the getaway car for Sixfeathers. In May, she was sentenced to four to six years in prison suspended in favor of six years of supervised probation.