A Casper man accused of breaking into Wyoming Medical Center and shooting at two staff members pleaded not guilty Wednesday morning to four charges related to the early March incident.
Mitchell D. Taylor, 20, was formally arraigned in Natrona County District Court on two counts of aggravated assault for threatening to use a drawn, deadly weapon; one count of property damage; and one count of possession of a deadly weapon with unlawful intent. He appeared in court in an orange jail jumpsuit with his attorney, Joseph Cole, and a small contingent of supporters filling two pews behind him.
Taylor faces 10-year maximum sentences for each aggravated assault charge and for the property damage charge. The possession of a deadly weapon charge carries a five-year max penalty.
Taylor has been in custody since he was arrested in the early hours of March 4, when he allegedly entered Wyoming Medical Center through an unlocked back door, according to previous testimony and court documents. Taylor was allegedly high on LSD at the time, and he had driven to the hospital to seek help because he felt suicidal. He allegedly had a Springfield 9 mm handgun. It’s unclear how long he was in the hospital before a housekeeper discovered him at roughly 1 a.m., according to court proceedings.
Taylor allegedly asked the housekeeper what she was looking at before she turned and ran and he fired three shots. He then allegedly was met by a physician who was exiting a nearby doctors lounge. The doctor fled after seeing Taylor, according to court proceedings, and Taylor fired four more shots after him.
The hospital was placed on a lockdown, and police responded to the scene. They found and arrested Taylor in a tunnel beneath the facility, subduing him with a Taser in the process.
He allegedly asked police if he’d killed anyone. When told no, he allegedly replied, “That’s what I figured.”
The incident has prompted Wyoming Medical Center, the state’s largest hospital, to undergo sweeping security reforms and may lead to the facility having its own security force, rather than the contracted-out and unarmed officers who currently staff the central Casper building.
Taylor, in his first court appearance in March, told the court that he was “overdosing on LSD” at the time. His bond was set then at $500,000, a figure that Taylor and his attorney, Cole, have repeatedly asked the court to lower.
They did so again Wednesday. Cole told Judge Dan Forgey that Taylor wasn’t a threat to the community, wasn’t addicted to LSD or other drugs and that he was a lifelong Casper resident and posed no flight risk. Cole asked Forgey to lower the bond to $100,000.
District Attorney Dan Itzen disagreed. He said that Taylor “doesn’t have a drug problem, he has a criminal problem.” He noted that Taylor told law enforcement that he had planned on moving to Las Vegas — apparently for school — before the WMC incident. That meant he was a flight risk, Itzen said, and he reminded the judge that the state had initially asked for $1 million bond.
Forgey met Taylor somewhere in the middle. The judge lowered the bond to $250,000.
In his two previous appearances in court, Taylor has been animated. In mid-March, after his bond was kept at $500,000, the 20-year-old winced and pressed his fingers into his eyes and turned and mouthed his despair to the courtroom spectators.
On Wednesday, with his bond cut in half, he smiled to his friends and family as he was led from the courtroom and mouthed “I love you” twice.