Local law enforcement arrested a number of people accused of high-profile crimes in 2016, including five suspected in violent crimes against children.
An arrest is just the beginning of the lengthy legal proceedings common in many felony cases, however, and many of the cases that began in 2016 won’t be resolved until 2017.
Despite the attention some of these cases have attracted, the rate of reported violent crimes in Casper remained steady between 2012 and 2015, the most recent year for which FBI crime statistics are available.
For more than three hours on Aug. 5, Casper police negotiated with Chavis while he held a 51-year-old man hostage at knife point in an office building. Chavis later surrendered to police, and the victim was unharmed.
Court documents later revealed that Chavis was in the Aspen Creek office building demanding files about himself that he believed the government had. Prosecutors charged Chavis with kidnapping, aggravated assault and possession of a deadly weapon with unlawful intent. He faces up to life in prison.
Chavis told a Natrona County Circuit Court judge that he had a mental illness and was homeless. The judge ordered he complete a mental health evaluation.
Casper police arrested Winters in July on suspicion of kidnapping and molesting a 5-year-old boy whom he met at the El Mark-O bowling alley. Winters was working for a food vendor at a carnival at the Natrona County Fairgrounds.
The boy told police that Winters led him down to the riverbank and then touched him inappropriately, according to court documents.
Prosecutors charged Winters with kidnapping, first-degree sexual abuse of a minor and second-degree abuse of a minor.
Winters pleaded not guilty by reason of mental illness to the three felonies in September. If convicted, he could face up to life imprisonment.
Casper police arrested Bedsaul, 19, in September after family members reported he had raped and strangled a young girl in the front yard of the Casper home where he lived. A detective later said the teen appeared to be under the influence of drugs when he was arrested.
Prosecutors charged Bedsaul with attempted homicide, first-degree sexual abuse of a minor, aggravated assault and aggravated child abuse. If convicted, Bedsaul could face life imprisonment.
He entered a mental illness plea on Dec. 6, and a judge ordered a competency evaluation to be performed at the state hospital in Evanston.
Justin Thomas Ross
Ross is suspected of beating his 2-year-old daughter and throwing her against a wall while caring for the child for a week in October.
The girl was admitted to the hospital with a fractured skull, broken ribs and severe bruising. Ross told police the girl caused most of the injuries herself by falling.
Prosecutors charged Ross with aggravated child abuse, a felony with a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. He was released from jail in lieu of $50,000 bond.
Shakeel and Lyn Kahn
After a months-long investigation, federal agents arrested the Casper doctor and his wife in December for allegedly selling prescriptions for painkillers.
According to court documents, Dr. Shakeel Kahn and his wife, Lyn Kahn, sold prescriptions for Oxycodone for profit for more than five years. Some of the couple’s customers would then take the pills and sell them on the street in other states, the documents say.
They could each face up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Both were released in lieu of bond.
Lenard and Sonya Smiley
Police arrested the Casper couple in December on suspicion of grooming a teenage girl to perform sexual acts for them.
The Smileys manipulated the girl and forced her to give Lenard Smiley oral sex, according to court documents. They also made her perform sexual acts that caused her serious physical pain.
Prosecutors charged Lenard Smiley with five counts of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor. Sonya Smiley was charged with one count of accessory to second-degree sexual abuse of a minor and three counts of third-degree sexual abuse of a minor.
For each of the five charges against him, Lenard Smiley faces a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine. Sonya Smiley faces up to 20 years in prison for the charge of accessory to second-degree sexual abuse of a minor and up to 15 years for each of the three charges of third-degree sexual abuse of a minor.