Sweetwater County Sheriff's Department
Sweetwater County Sheriff's Department

A 41-year-old Sweetwater County man charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the shooting death of a Superior woman could face a life sentence as a habitual offender.

Stephen Jeffrey Taranovich made his initial court appearance Tuesday afternoon and was formally charged in Circuit Court charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death of 43-year-old Danielle Nichole Martin Sunday afternoon at a home north of Rock Springs.

That crime carries a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine under Wyoming law.

But because of Taranovich's three previous felony convictions, prosecutors in the case have also decided to charge him as a habitual criminal offender. That designation carries a potential life sentence under Wyoming law.

Prosecutors say Taranovich's felony convictions include a 1996 conviction for criminal possession of a controlled substance, as well as a 2005 Florida conviction for marijuana producing and a 2006 conviction for vehicle grand theft, also in Florida.

According to court papers filed in the shooting case, the person who lived at the home,  where the shooting happened, Stephen Ray Kiskis, told Sweetwater County Sheriff's Detectives that Taranovich and Martin went into his (Kiskis's) bedroom to ''smoke dope" on Sunday afternoon. Martin was allegedly complaining that she wanted to go home while Taranovich was sitting on a computer chair with a pistol in his lap, pointed toward Martin.

Kiskis said he heard the gun go off and saw that Martin had been shot. Kiskis thought the shooting was an accident.

Taranovich told investigators that he had been cleaning his .40 caliber Smith and Wesson and then put the gun back together without realizing there was a live round in the chamber. He said he pulled the trigger to release tension on the gun and that it went off, killing Martin.

Taranovich's bond has been set at $600,000. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Feb. 6.

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