RAWLINS – Attorneys representing Scott David Drumm and John Henry Lee Stilley, two suspects involved in a shooting case that left a Riverside woman with a bullet wound in her femur, are calling for dismissals.
During a Tuesday motion hearing in Carbon County District Court, the defense argued that character accounts, otherwise known as “404 (b) evidence,” submitted by the state is merely “hearsay” and “sour grapes” and that that the charge of “attempted involuntary manslaughter” poses as a jurisdictional issue.
“You can’t specifically intend to act involuntarily,” said Joshua Merseal, Stilley’s lawyer, in his argument. “I don’t think these charges are admissible.”
On July 30, 2018, authorities apprehended Drumm, then 49, and Stilley, then 75, after a receiving a report that a female was struck by gunfire. Once Carbon County sheriff’s deputies discovered the exact side of the residence where the bullets first hit, they suspected it had come from the north, where Drumm and Stilley were located.
According to court documents, the two suspects were behind Stilley’s residence at 57 County Road 648, Encampment, where an alleged firearm target practice had gone wrong.
Using three rifles – a .22, a 9mm and an SKS – Drumm and Stilley were reportedly firing into a pyramid of wooden logs while perched atop Stilley’s vehicle. Some of those bullets, according to court records, struck the female victim’s house, which was later measured to be 632 yards away, in Riverton.
A subsequent investigation revealed that the female was making lunch for her young son when she heard shots being fired behind her house. In response, she went outside to take the dog in and continued to make lunch.
It was then, according to court documents, she was struck by a projectile as she stood in the middle of her kitchen. After she immediately fell to the ground and noticed the wound, the victim later advised authorities that she took her toddler son from his child pumpkin seat, crawled into the dining room and called 911 as well as her husband.
The victim would later survive surgery to remove the bullet from her leg at Ivinson Memorial Hospital, in Laramie. The child didn’t suffer any injuries.
Drumm and Stilley were subsequently charged with one misdemeanor count of reckless endangerment, and two felony counts of aggravated assault and battery as well as attempted involuntary manslaughter, a charge initially made by former prosecuting attorney Cal Rerucha in which the defense argues holds no jurisdiction in America.
In addition, the state has thus far produced the following to back the charges: a 9mm slug from the victim’s house and a separate verbal account from 2015, which alleges that Stilley was contacted by authorities after complaints were made claiming he was firing a weapon in the area.
Meanwhile, the bullet from the victim’s leg has yet been produced.
The verbal account, prosecuting attorney Ashley Mayfield Davis argued on Tuesday, qualifies as 404(b) evidence and should be admissible if the case continues to a trial.
According to Davis, back in 2015, authorities confronted Stilley, who lives on private property, after he was allegedly shooting a shotgun and handgun on the property. It was then, said Davis, that Stilley was advised by authorities to fire his weapons safely so as not to hit any nearby houses or campgrounds.
The prosecution is trying to use the 2015 incident as sort of a precursor to the shooting in 2018.
Being Stilley wasn’t at the time arrested or cited for any criminal misconduct, however, there are no actual records of Stilley being confronted by authorities. Instead, Davis intends to relay on testimonials from investigating authorities and property owners.
She also argued that the charge of “attempted involuntary manslaughter” is something that can be upheld by jury discretion.
“We believe it’s an issue for the jury to decide,” Davis said. “The court does have criminal jurisdiction.”
Judge Dawnessa Snyder would call into question the amount of evidence currently provided in the case. In addition, she also questioned the validity of Drumm and Stilley’s original charges.
“I would like you to look into a specific charge,” Snyder said.
A pretrial conference is set for June 24.
If the case goes to trial, it’s scheduled for July 16.