From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 3, Number 30 - October 23, 2003
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Guthrie orders PSI in two cases Tuesday

by Janet Montgomery

Ninth Judicial District Court Judge Nancy Guthrie heard two pleas Tuesday in two separate cases, but before accepting or rejecting the pleas, the judge ordered pre-sentencing investigations setting sentencing for a later date.

Former Sublette County Sheriff's Department Deputy Dwayne Burson pleaded guilty during his change of plea hearing Tuesday but to a lesser charge of sexual assault in the third degree.

After having Burson recount the events of Aug. 11, 2002, Guthrie asked Sublette County Attorney Van Graham why the state had opted for the plea agreement.

Graham told the court that after discussion with the victim and consideration, the state opted to enter into the agreement knowing that the extended probationary period would make it a low-risk decision.

Graham said, "If it turns out that Burson is a criminal or a continuing criminal then during the long period of probation ... he will violate the law."

Graham also said that a young man Burson's age can demonstrate that he does not plan to continue, "he has the opportunity for this, at some point, to not result in a felony conviction that he carries with him the rest of his life."

Burson was charged with sexual assault in the second degree stemming from an August 2002 incident for which Burson was accused of "inflicting sexual intrusion" on a Pinedale woman while in a position of authority, as he was acting in an official capacity as a Sublette County Sheriff's Department officer.

A plea agreement filed in the District Court last week would reduce the charge of sexual assault in the second degree to sexual assault in the third degree in exchange for Burson's guilty plea, according to court documents.

According to the filing, Burson would receive a 301 deferral and serve five years of supervised probation as well as be required to undergo an evaluation by a professional who evaluates sex offenders. Burson would also be required to follow any recommendations made from that evaluation as well as pay restitution to the victim, according to court documents.

With the 301 deferral, successful completion of the probationary sentence allows for the felony charge to be dismissed.

Sexual assault in the second degree is a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 20 years and/or a fine of not more than $10,000.

Appearing for arraignment, William Hampton, 45, of Pinedale also entered guilty pleas Tuesday, with the intent of a 301 deferral for the charges.

The charges in District Court include one count of felony property destruction, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and/ or a $10,000 fine, and one count of reckless endangering, which carries a maximum of one year in jail and/ or a $1,000.

Hampton was charged in July following an alleged July 4 incident in which two Pinedale businesses and a residence were shot, according to court documents.

On Oct. 9, after waiving the preliminary examination on three felony destruction of property charges along with a misdemeanor destruction charge and a reckless endangering charge, the case was sent to District Court.

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