PROPS & DISSES 8.21.13

By on August 20, 2013


Back Row: (L to R) Sublette County Sheriff’s Office "Cold Case" detectives Sarah Brew and Lance Gehlhausen, Sublette County Attorney Investigator Randall Hanson, SCSO Detective Shane Templar. Front Row: (L to R) Sublette County Sheriff Wayne "Bardy" Bardin, Sublette County Prosecuting Attorney Lucky McMahon, Sublette County Captain Brian Ketterhagen. (With permission, Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online)

Back Row: (L to R) Sublette County Sheriff’s Office “Cold Case” detectives Sarah Brew and Lance Gehlhausen, Sublette County Attorney Investigator Randall Hanson, SCSO Detective Shane Templar. Front Row: (L to R) Sublette County Sheriff Wayne “Bardy” Bardin, Sublette County Prosecuting Attorney Lucky McMahon, Sublette County Captain Brian Ketterhagen. (With permission, Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online)

Murder in the worst degree   DISS

The botched trial of Troy Willoughby continues to haunt Sublette County prosecutors. The exonerated ex-con filed a federal lawsuit days after he was freed after a retrial. He wants to be compensated for the three years he spent behind bars. Now, the word from the Casper Star Tribune is that a special prosecutor has been assigned to probe Sublette County’s handling of the high-profile murder case.

Willoughby was convicted of killing Lisa Ehlers in January 2010, 26 years after Ehlers was found shot at a pullout in Hoback Canyon. A retrial was granted by Judge Tim Day on the allegations that exculpatory evidence was withheld from the defense team. Willoughby was found not guilty on Feb. 10, 2012, and freed.

Planet JH ran a hard-hitting expose on the prosecutorial blunders that plagued the original trial back on Feb. 15, 2012. Oddly, nearly everyone involved in prosecuting the case left their position – some left the state, one left the country – after the trial.

Lead prosecutor Lucky McMahon split for Korar, Palau (yeah, we don’t know where that is, either), Judge Nancy Guthrie quit the bench (the Willoughby trial was her last), lead investigator Brian Ketterhagen became chief of police in Tea, S.D., and fellow investigator Randall Hansen retired.

The Trib reported Sheridan County Attorney Matt Redle is working as a special prosecutor with the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation. U.S. Magistrate Judge Kelly Rankin of Cheyenne has ordered parties meet with him later this month for a settlement conference.

The real loser here, in addition to the Sublette County Attorney’s Office, is the family and friends of Lisa Ehlers. Her memory can’t be laid to rest properly and justice still waits.

Earth First! Wolves second?   DISS

Earth First! released a manual last week claiming it was a reference guide on how to sabotage a wolf hunt. The radical environmental advocacy group was born out of Edward Abbey’s crusade against the Glen Canyon Dam in the late 70s. Since then, it has staged sit-ins to save forests from logging and other such shenanigans.

The anti-wolf hunt suggestions in the manual include instructions on how to find and destroy wolf traps, how to free a trapped wolf safely, and the proper use of air-horns and smoke bombs to mess up a wolf hunter’s success.

The group brings awareness and that’s important, but when its rhetoric and tactics become too over-the-top, it loses credibility. Claiming the Obama Administration is pushing America toward a “new era of wolf genocide” is a bit sensational and comparing current wolf population estimates (6,000 in the United States) with those of yesteryear (hundreds of thousands), when humans had not yet entered the picture is hardly a fair comparison.

Panagioti Tsolkas, a correspondent with Earth First! Media, said sabotaging a wolf hunt is a very dangerous undertaking because “wolf hunters have guns and obviously little morals when it comes to what they shoot.”

Radicalism doesn’t play well here in the West and in Wyoming. Especially in light of Tuesday’s headline about the sheep massacre in Idaho.

 Yellowstoned math  DISS

The headline read: “Yellowstone Park visitor numbers drop in July.” That’s not an encouraging headline to read when we are trying to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and shake this bad economy thing. It’s also a misleading headline and the park has only itself to blame. It pulled a ‘Coke’ and changed its formula.

Officials at Yellowstone decided to monkey with the multiplier they use to count visitors to the park. It’s obviously impossible to do an actual headcount so they’ve always just multiplied every vehicle by 2.91 times have changed, however, and there is now the assumption that we don’t carpool as well as we used to and families aren’t as big as they once were, so a lower multiplier (2.58) is being used beginning this season.

You can’t do that, Yellowstone. How can you change the formula? Now we are no longer comparing apples to apples. You can just throw out all visitation data previous to 2013. It’s meaningless. It doesn’t matter so much to try to be accurate. If you really wanted to strive for accuracy you could employ the use of vehicle-penetrating Wi-Vi technology to find every human being in the RV (dogs, included).

General body counts are useful only when comparing month-to-month, year-to-year trends. Did less people really visit Yellowstone last July when compared to July 2012? Not if you use the old formula. July 2012 numbers were 791,770. July 2013 numbers were 744,056. Using the old multiplier, however, would have had more than 840,000 passing through the gate last month.

About Jake Nichols

Jake is a work in progress.


  1. Shake Penny

    August 21, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    Really Jake?

    “How can you change the formula?”

    If 5 people arrive by car in 2012 and 3.5 arrive by car in 2013 then it would make sense to calculate the number of visitors based upon the most appropriate multiple. The year-to-year comparisons are still valid.

    Jake can still work backwards and figure out the total number of cars if he wants to use the old multiple and get even more inaccurate data.

    The fact remains that all those numbers are pretty meaningless if you’re trying to count the actual number of visitors. Your comments about the “vehicle-penetrating Wi-Vi technology” reaffirm that.

  2. Shake Penny

    August 21, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    The botched trial of Troy Willoughby is just more proof that law enforcement and the judicial system can never be trusted to get it right even if they want to be on the right side of the law, or the right side of justice.

    It’s bad enough when they try to circumvent justice and the law like the JPD did with the abortion protestors, or in Troy’s case with the withholding of evidence (Raptor case ring a bell?).

  3. Panagioti Tsolkas

    August 30, 2013 at 12:00 am

    Jake, human hunters lived in a balance with wolves for thousands of documented years in this country, prior to careless hunters driving them to near extinction with a Manifest Destiny mindset. Its the same mindset that nearly drove wild buffalo to extinction, and did drive passenger pigeons extinct. Not to mention the genocide of native people in this country by greed and land speculators.

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