RAWLINS – The trial of a former Wyoming State Penitentiary shipping and receiving clerk accused of having sexual relations with an inmate began Tuesday in Carbon County District Court.
Shantell Ann Wyant, 30, was charged with three counts of second-degree sexual assault stemming from a relationship with former inmate David “Day Day” Edgerson, which lasted between February 2015 and July of last year, according to court records. Both parties later admitted during a subsequent investigation to having sexual contact with one another in the penitentiary warehouse while Wyant was on the job.
All three counts, which Wyant pleaded not guilty to earlier this year in circuit court, hold a maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment, as well as a possible $10,000 fine.
By noon Tuesday, Judge Dawnessa Synder impaneled 12 jurors, with one alternate, after the jury pool fielded several questions highlighting any potential relationships with the case.
A few potential jurors admitted to personally knowing Wyant; being currently or formally employed by the prison; or having past experiences with sexual assault. Snyder would later excuse these people.
Following opening statements by prosecuting attorney Corinne A. Miller and defense attorney Michael Bennett, Sgt. Jory Shoopman, the DOC officer tasked with investigating the case, was called to the stand.
She said another inmate brought Wyant’s potential violation to her attention last year during an unrelated investigation involving a theft case allegedly having taken place at the WSP warehouse.
“Then, I learned Wyant was in a relationship with a former inmate,” Shoopman told Miller.
According to court records, the informing inmate told Shoopman he overheard in the warehouse office one day “Ms. Wyant talk on the phone with Day Day,” and that after asking her about the telephone call, “Ms. Wyant told him it was Day Day” and that he was a former inmate.
Shoopman, in turn, discovered using the Wyoming Corrections Information System Offender Alias Name Search program that “Day Day” was, in fact, Edgerson, and that he was a WSP inmate between July 2014 and June 2015.
Upon further investigation, according to Shoopman, through Inmate Calling Solutions, which is the standard program used by WSP to set up inmates with calling accounts, she discovered that Edgerson made numerous call attempts to a phone number listed as his cousin, Kara Taylor.
The address attached to the number, however, was fictitious, according to court records. Instead, through listening to these calls, Shoopman noted that she was able to identify the receiving party as Wyant.
Court records show that 69 out of 92 calls made to that number were successful.
Miller asked Shoopman how many of the calls she analyzed.
“I listened to the majority of them,” Shoopman responded.
The prosecution later published and played for the jury five call recordings, which took place in April 2015. During these conversations, a three-way call was made to Edgerson’s mother, who, at one point, was heard saying “Hi Shantell” over the wire.
According to Shoopman, she would later discover through what’s called a “phone dump” – a method of infiltrating previous calls – on the telephone in Wyant’s office that Wyant had made a phone call last February to Edgerton’s cell phone.
On July 19 of last year, Edgerson was interviewed on the matter by DOC investigators Lt. Scott Booth and Sgt. Jason Duke at the Campbell County Probation and Parole office. That same day, Wyant was also interviewed by Shoopman and supervising officer Maj. William Moore inside the WSP administration building.
Both Wyant and Edgerton would eventually confess to not only having consensual sexual relations inside the warehouse near the “paper towels and bulk items,” but also multiple times, on separate occasions, in a Gillette hotel once Edgerson was later transferred to a re-entry program at a Volunteers of America facility.
Miller asked Shoopman how the two could carry out the sexual acts at the prison without being caught.
“The way the boxes are stacked can create a blind spot in the camera,” Shoopman said.
Prior to the tapes being played, Shoopman said that all employees – non-uniformed or uniformed – are instructed during training academy on what the policies are regarding sexual misconduct with inmates. In addition, said Shoopman, during training, employees are made aware that, if these rules and regulations are broken, they could be enforced through criminal prosecution.
Moore, who was later called to the witness stand, confirmed all Shoopman’s claims.
During Bennett’s cross-examination, however, Shoopman admitted to not knowing exactly who instructed and provided Wyant information regarding sexual misconduct rules and regulations during her original three-week training in the academy, which took place in 2006 – the first year of her employment at WSP.
In Moore’s testimonial, he said he helped draft an updated policy regarding sexual protection between inmates and employees. He added that these regulations are implemented so as “no one gets hurt and no one violates any laws.”
According to Moore, his career started as a federal agent 35 years ago, and that his time as a correctional officer – both in Oregon and Wyoming – began almost 16 years ago. Throughout his tenure, he said he’s executed “several hundred” investigations; of which, 30-35 percent pertained to sexual allegations.
When asked about his involvement during Wyant’s July 19, 2017 confessional interview, he said, “She didn’t have to answer questions, basically if she didn’t want to.”
Pertaining to the beginning of the interview, he added, “I felt she was being deceptive, that she was being deceitful.”
Tuesday’s court session adjourned a little after 4:30 p.m. Along with Moore, further witness testimonials were heard the following day, including from Edgerson.