Judge Affirms Guilty Verdict Of Molester Of Casper Child
A Colorado man convicted last year of kidnapping and sexually abusing a 5-year-old boy in 2016 will not get a new trial, Natrona County District Court Judge Thomas Sullins ruled this week.
Joshua Winters was convicted in a jury trial in May 2017 on counts of kidnapping and first- and second-degree sexual abuse of a minor. Sullins sentenced him to 80-115 years imprisonment in September.
In March, Winters asked for a new trial through his attorney Keith Nachbar, claiming in hearings this summer that his public defender Rob Oldham failed to adequately defend him, with responses by Assistant District Attorney Kevin Taheri.
Sullins determined Oldham's defense of Winters was sound.
"Reviewing all of the evidence presented in the case hereunder review, it cannot be found that there is opinion testimony nor a factual basis to support a determination that trial counsel's (Oldham's) performance was deficient," Sullins wrote.
"Further, it cannot be determined, in light of all the circumstances, that trial counsel's acts or omissions were outside the wide range of professionally competent assistance; and, in fact, the evidence supports a determination that trial counsel's actions could be considered sound trial strategy," he wrote.
Winters raised six objections to the way Oldham defended him:
- Failure to challenge the competency and credibility of a child witness, who was the victim in the case.
- Failure to object to the admission of the forensic interview of the victim at the Children's Advocacy Project, as well as other claimed hearsay.
- Admission of other hearsay without objection.
- Failure to interview and confront two witnesses for the prosecution.
- Failure to interview and investigate claims of an eye witness.
- Failure to consult with and call a DNA expert.
Sullins reviewed and rejected all the objections, adding that even if they had merit they would not have been enough to show that Winters did not receive a fair trial nor counter the overwhelming evidence of Winters' guilt.
Meanwhile, Winters in December appealed his conviction to the Wyoming Supreme Court, which has delayed its hearing pending the outcome of this court action.
The case began July 18, 2016, when the then 5-year-old victim went with his brother to play video games in an arcade at the El Mark-O Lanes on CY Avenue, according to court documents.
Winters was in the adjoining bar. He quit his job as a carnival worker earlier in the day and had all his possessions with him in one or more bags.
At some point, he went to the children, gave them money to play games, and later asked them and a manager about money he said was missing.
Winters and the boy left the bowling alley together. Winters told him he would show him his camp down by the river, but later claimed the boy was helping him look for his missing money.
Investigators believe the pair walked to the intersection of 13th and Coulter streets.
Winters initially told police the boy stole his bags, chased him to the river, jumped in, hit his head and later woke up with the boy nowhere to be found. Winters later said the boy fell in the river, he jumped into the river to save the boy's life, and was wrongfully accused.
During the trial, a woman said she was driving home and saw the victim standing several car lengths from Wyoming Boulevard. She initially drove past him, but looked in her rear-view mirror and saw no adults or other children nearby.
She asked the boy if he was alright. He didn't speak, shook his head, was crying, wet and covered in sand.
She took him to the Mills Police Department and was then taken to the Wyoming Medical Center.