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Laura Wells

Laura Starnes-Wells makes her appearance in February in Natrona County Circuit Court. Starnes-Wells, an officer with the Casper Police Department, may enter into a plea deal with prosecutors, her attorney said Wednesday.

File, Star-Tribune

A Casper police officer charged with child abuse is working out a plea agreement in the case, her attorney said Wednesday.

Thomas Fleener, the attorney for Laura Starnes-Wells, declined to say whether his client would plead guilty in the case, only saying that he is working on an agreement with the Natrona County District Attorney’s office.

District Attorney Michael Blonigen declined to comment on the matter before the change-of-plea hearing, which is scheduled for Nov. 28.

Starnes-Wells was charged with felony child abuse in February. Her husband, Sgt. Todd Wells, was charged with a misdemeanor count of child endangerment.

Charges were later dropped against Todd Wells, with prosecutors promising to re-file. No additional charges against Wells have been filed.

Both Wells and Starnes-Wells are still working for the police department, City Manager Carter Napier said Wednesday afternoon.

Starnes-Wells is assigned to a project with the Office of Professional Standards, Napier said.

The Office of Professional Standards reviews and investigates complaints against Casper Police Department employees, replies to citizen inquiries and documents employee commendations.

Napier said he was not aware of any plea deal in the works.

The Natrona County Sheriff’s Office began the investigation in May 2016 after the couple’s adopted daughter told school officials that Starnes-Wells “had battered her” over the previous weekend, according to court documents. School officials told investigators that the girl, who was 14 at the time, told them Starnes-Wells had slapped her. The school official said she noticed that the girl had a partially black eye and a swollen lip, the documents show.

Starnes-Wells could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted on the felony charge.

Follow crime reporter Shane Sanderson on Twitter @shanersanderson


Crime and Courts Reporter

Shane Sanderson is a Star-Tribune reporter who primarily covers criminal justice. Sanderson is a proud University of Missouri graduate. Lately, he’s been reading Cormac McCarthy and cooking Italian food. He writes about his own life in his free time.

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