One of the two men convicted in Casper’s highly publicized 2009 Craigslist rape resurfaced in Natrona County District Court on Monday afternoon, asking for an opportunity to appeal.
Ty Oliver McDowell claimed he wasn’t properly advised of his appellate rights at his change-of-plea hearing. He asked the Wyoming Supreme Court to reinstate his right to appeal. McDowell’s attorneys claim he missed the window for a timely appeal because he believed he wasn’t eligible for one.
The state Supreme Court, in turn, asked the Natrona County District Court to rule on whether McDowell may have been misled in regard to his right to a timely appeal.
The move is the latest in McDowell’s attempts to shorten or end his lengthy prison term. His motions for a sentence reduction and to withdraw his guilty plea, among others, have been denied.
The 2009 attack was arranged by the woman’s ex-boyfriend, Jebidiah James Stipe, and executed by McDowell, who Stipe met on Craigslist. Stipe posed as the victim and requested a rape fantasy. Both men were convicted for their roles and each was sentenced to 60 years in prison.
McDowell has repeatedly maintained that he was tricked into committing the assault.
McDowell’s attorneys, Tom Fleener and Tim Newcomb, both of Laramie, argued that former Natrona County District Judge David Park misled their client to believe that he couldn’t make a direct appeal after pleading guilty.
The attorneys produced court transcripts in which they say Park lumped trial rights and appellate rights together.
“A reasonable person would be led to believe McDowell has no appellate rights,” Fleener said.
Newcomb specifically noted that the allegations aren’t under the realm of ineffective counsel. McDowell was represented by Casper attorney Tim Cotton during the proceedings.
Natrona County District Attorney Michael Blonigen said he did, in fact, believe that it was an ineffective counsel claim, and called Cotton to the stand. Cotton relayed that he and McDowell had multiple conversations after McDowell was sentenced, and said he talked to his client about appellate rights.
“He didn’t think he wanted to appeal,” Cotton said.
Blonigen additionally stated that McDowell was advised of his right to appeal as early as his bond hearing.
“Mr. McDowell simply regrets the plea he entered,” Blonigen said.
McDowell’s attorneys didn’t state whether their client planned to appeal or on what basis he would appeal if given the opportunity.
Natrona County District Judge Daniel Forgey said he would consider the positions presented Monday and would issue a written finding of fact at a later date.