BREAKING: Former Carnival Worker Gets 80-115 Years For Kidnapping, Sexually Abusing Five-Year-Old Casper Boy
The former carnival worker convicted of kidnapping and sexually abusing a five-year-old boy last summer was sentenced to spend decades in prison Friday morning.
A jury in May deliberated for two hours before convicting 34-year-old Joshua Ashby Winters of carrying the boy across the North Platte River into a wooded area, where he sexually abused him.
For his conviction on one count of kidnapping, Natrona County District Court Judge Thomas Sullins sentenced Winters to 50-70 years in prison. Consecutive to that sentence, Sullins also imposed 30-45 years in total for Winters' convictions on charges of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor and second-degree sexual abuse of a minor.
According to charging documents, the victim and his brother had been playing video games in the arcade at El Mark-O Lanes on July 18, while Winters was drinking in the adjoining bar.
At some point, Winters went up to the children and gave them money to put in the video game machines. Some time later, Winters asked the children and the bowling alley's manager about money which Winters said had gone missing.
Winters and the victim left the bowling alley within a few minutes of each other. Winters either told the boy he would show him his camp down by the river, or asked the boy to help him look for his missing money, and walked with the victim to the intersection of 13th and Coulter.
Winters would later tell police that the boy stole his bags, and Winters chased him to the river. Winters claimed the boy fell into the river, so he jumped in after him. He said he hit his head and later woke up, with the boy nowhere to be found.
Assistant District Attorney Brett Johnson, who tried the case, told jurors the story was bunk, as police later found where Winters had stashed his bags.
Winters had all his belongings with him at the time, as he had quit his job with the carnival earlier that day.
The state alleged, and the jury agreed, that Winters carried the boy across the river to a densely-wooded area on the north bank, took his clothes off and sexually abused the boy.
Then, Winters left the boy alone, wet and crying near Wyoming Boulevard. A woman driving home from the grocery store with her three children found the boy and took him to the Mills Police Department.
The victim, who was in kindergarten last year, testified during the trial.
"He took me," the boy told jurors.
"How were your bodies when he [abused] you?" Johnson asked the boy.
"Scared," the boy answered. "He said 'don't talk about this or else I'll kill your family.'"
"I feel like we all have seen and understand what happened in this case," Johnson said in his closing argument toward the conclusion of the trial.
Part of childhood, Johnson told the jury, is that "they don't really understand evil at that age."
"You wish they could stay kids forever," Johnson added.
"That's what was taken away. He'll never be the same kid," Johnson concluded.