A Natrona County judge on Wednesday moved the criminal case against a 17-year-old suspected of involvement in a drive-by shooting to juvenile court.
Judge Catherine Wilking’s decision means the case against Isaiah Dobbins, whom prosecutors had charged as an adult on allegations he conspired to shoot into a Paradise Valley house in May, will conclude in closed proceedings. Dobbins pleaded not guilty in July at his Natrona County District Court arraignment.
Because Wyoming juvenile cases are closed to the public, the final outcome of the criminal case is expected to remain confidential.
Nobody was injured in the shooting and the house was unoccupied at the time. Court documents have not made clear who prosecutors think pulled the trigger in the alleged drive-by. Of the five defendants, four are younger than 18 and three face juvenile proceedings. Prosecutors initially charged one teenager in juvenile court and the Star-Tribune has decided not to publish his name because he was never charged as an adult.
Prosecutors say the four juveniles were in a car with Matthew Neitert, 25, when at least two people shot at an empty Paradise Valley home and cars parked out front. Neitert, the only adult alleged to be involved, has pleaded not guilty to four felony charges, which — in addition to the charges initially filed as common to co-defendants — allege he provided stolen firearms to the teenagers.
Quincy Brow, 17, is the only involved person whose case has been publicly adjudicated. He pleaded guilty in the adult court to a single felony related to the shooting and an additional felony drug possession charge. In exchange for the pleas, prosecutors dismissed three other charges. Lawyers will ask he participate in a corrections department boot camp program as part of his sentence that — if successfully completed — could mean he is not required to serve further incarceration.
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Although Brow said the shooting was retaliation for a threat, he did not name anyone involved. He said a group of people got their hands on two guns and a person fired one of them at a house.
Prosecutors have made allegations largely consistent with his admissions. Charging documents state one of the defendants, Isaiah R. White, argued with an amateur boxer online and, after the boxer beat him in a fistfight, White, Dobbins, Brow and the fourth teen got in a car driven by Nietert. People in the car shot at the boxer’s home as they passed by, hitting it and cars parked out front, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors also charged White, 17, as an adult. He did not enter pleas in district court and first requested his case be moved to juvenile court. Judge Kerri Johnson heard arguments in a closed hearing and granted the transfer earlier this month. The reason for her decision was not clear: She filed the order under court seal, making it unavailable to the general public. A separate order to seal the order to transfer the case, however, indicated the nature of the filing.
Wilking on Wednesday filed her decision in Dobbins’ case as typical and without the use of a seal that would make it confidential. Prosecutors told Wilking that although they were required to demonstrate they had appropriately charged the case in adult court, they would not present any evidence, according to the judge’s ruling. Jonathan Gerard, who represents Dobbins on court appointment, called one witness, his mother.
Although a written filing by prosecutors stated they opposed the request, Assistant District Attorney Ava Bell did not present evidence to support her arguments at the hearing, Wilking said.