After the deadly shooting at the Riverton Detox Center, Freemont County authorities are pressing law makers to introduce harsher penalties for those who commit crimes that are motivated by racial prejudice. The Democrats from Freemont County are leaving no stone unturned to call attention to the fact that Wyoming is among only 5 states in the country that do not have laws to impose additional penalty for hate crimes.
The shooting which occurred on July 18 involved Roy Clyde, a 32 year old resident of Riverton, who has since been arrested under murder and attempted murder charges. The victims of the crime were Stallone Trosper, who was killed in the shooting and James Goggles, 50 who was grievously injured.
The defendant claims to have shot the victims because he thought they were drunk and homeless people who relieved themselves and littered in City Park, Riverton. However, neither of the victims was homeless, but they were both American Indians, which clearly establishes a racial angle to the crime.
While the Democrats intended to hold a rally to convince law makers of the need for stringent laws against hate crimes, the Republicans of Freemont County who are in the position to make changes to the criminal code of the state do not agree with the Democrats.
They are opposing hate crime laws under the pretext that they may lead to complications when trying defendants accused of serious felonies without really impacting the outcome of the case. Senator Cale Case, one of the legislators who is against the introduction of new rules, explained that hate crime laws would make little difference when a person is already being held under the charge of first degree murder which can result in capital punishment.
According to Case, if a person has been found guilty of causing bodily harm to another individual, the punishment for such a crime should be the same regardless of the race of the victim. As opposed to this view, the Democrats believe that the introduction of hate crime laws will serve as a strong deterrent.