A Casper man charged with stealing a shotgun and hiding it in a friend’s home will serve up to eight years in prison.
Jesse Smith pleaded guilty Wednesday in Natrona County District Court to two felony charges for aggravated robbery and a third offense of possessing methamphetamine. He was sentenced in the same hearing to three to five years in prison for possession and five to eight for the robbery. Judge Daniel Forgey ordered the sentences to run at the same time.
Assistant District Attorney Michael Schafer told the court that Smith had been out of prison for around 40 days at the time of the incident, following a December 2018 conviction for felony property destruction.
Casper police responded to a call on Dec. 17 of a stolen Winchester shotgun, valued at around $320, from an east Casper apartment. The woman who reported the theft said she came home that evening to find her back window screen on the floor, and told police she suspected Smith had broken in since he knew where the shotgun was and was familiar with her dog and would not have been bitten.
Smith was ordered Wednesday to pay $735 to the property’s landlord for repairs to the window.
A neighbor told police, according to court documents, that he was woken around 9 that morning by the dog in the home barking “like crazy” and saw an unfamiliar white sedan outside the apartment.
An investigation found Smith had been using a friend’s car, a white sedan, while she was sleeping. According to an affidavit in the case, Smith was found at the friend’s home in Mills, hiding under a bed due to the active warrant out for his arrest. The friend told police that she had woken at around noon that day, and Smith told her he had taken her car to get gas.
According to court documents, a search of that apartment did not find the gun, but did find a pair of bongs that tested positive for methamphetamine.
While being transported to the Natrona County Detention Center, Smith allegedly told officers in the car that he had broken into the apartment, taken the shotgun and then given it to a “guy wearing a black beanie and a COVID mask” at Westshore Village. Police found a car in the area matching a description Smith gave.
A search of the home found the stolen gun stashed in a closet. The residents said Smith had been letting their dogs out for a few days while they were in Colorado, and did not know he was hiding the gun in their home. They showed a receipt from Dec. 17 to prove they were not home to receive the gun from Smith.