News of Riverton, Lander and Fremont County, Wyoming, from the Ranger's award winning journalists.
Man accused in brutal attack pleads 'illness or deficiency'
Mar 4, 2012 - By Martin Reed, Staff Writer
A Riverton man who allegedly brutally attacked and nearly killed someone in October, while on probation for a previous sexual assault conviction, pleaded not guilty by reason of mental illness or deficiency.
George William Lucas, 46, also entered a coupled not-guilty plea to his charges that include attempted first-degree murder, four sexual-related criminal allegations and a single count of intimidating a witness.
Accompanied by defense attorney Kate McKay, Lucas entered his pleas during his arraignment March 1 in Lander's 9th District Court.
Because of the mental illness pleas, Lucas must undergo an evaluation at the Wyoming State Hospital in Evanston. District Judge Norman E. Young stayed further proceedings in the case pending the outcome.
If the hospital determines Lucas is fit to stand trial, he will proceed on his not guilty pleas without the mental illness component. Young did not set a trial date in the case.
Lucas remains in jail on a $1 million bond following his arrest in the matter.
The Fremont County Attorney's Office initially charged Lucas with 17 felonies that included other allegations of kidnapping, felonious restraint and abuse.
But the prosecutor's office filed amended charges against him March 1 that boiled that matter down to six felonies.
Attempted murder and three other charges against Lucas carry sentences of life in prison, while one of the sexual charges is punishable by between 25 years and life. Intimidating a witness carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
During his arraignment, Lucas answered with simple "yes,sir" and "no, sir" answers to questions from Young.
When the judge asked if he suffered from any mental illness or deficiency that would prevent him from understanding his proceeding, Lucas responded with a "No, sir."
His case became unsealed in District Court following a preliminary hearing held in Riverton's Circuit Court on Dec. 21.
During the hearing, Circuit Judge Wesley A. Roberts determined that probable cause exists for the 17 felonies against him at the time and bound over the case to District Court.
The charges resulted from an investigation by the Riverton Police Department following a report of a sexual assault and violent attack allegedly committed by Lucas, according to court documents.
Previous assault history
Many of the charges against Lucas carry an enhanced penalty stemming from his previous conviction on third-degree sexual assault from 2009 in District Court.
Prosecutors filed charges against Lucas on April 29, 2008, accusing him of sexual assault. In amended charges filed May 14, 2008, Lucas faced eight counts related to three different alleged victims.
Some of the allegations accused him of taking advantage of his roles in different jobs including as a state probation officer to sexually assault victims, according to court documents.
A jury convicted him of two counts of third-degree sexual assault during his trial in January 2009 but Young later ordered a new trial for Lucas, according to court records.
Instead of proceeding to a second trial, Lucas agreed to plead no contest to a single charge of third-degree sexual assault.
Under the agreement with prosecutors, he received a suspended prison sentence of two to four years and a probation term of four years on March 26, 2009.
Following his arrest on the latest allegations against him, a petition to revoke his probation emerged in District Court. A hearing held on the matter in October led Young to postpone a decision in the case until the other charges reached a disposition.