BREAKING: Accused Child Molester Found Guilty on All Counts by Casper Jury
A former carnival worker accused of kidnapping and sexually abusing a five-year-old boy last summer was convicted Thursday by a jury of seven women and five men on all counts charged against him.
Joshua Ashby Winters, 34, now faces 45 years to life plus 70 years in prison after being found guilty of kidnapping, sexual abuse of a minor in the first degree and sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree.
The jury deliberated for a little over two hours before returning their verdict.
Before completing the verdict, jurors asked a question about the language in one portion of the verdict sheet. The court addressed the question, clarified the language and sent the case back to the jury.
Jurors returned to the courtroom just a few minutes later to announce their unanimous decision.
After the verdict was read and the jury excused, Natrona County District Court Judge Thomas Sullins ordered Winters held without bond pending sentencing. He also ordered a presentence investigation.
Charging papers say the victim went with his brother and possibly one or more friends to El Mark-O Lanes on July 18 to play video games in the arcade.
Winters was allegedly in the adjoining bar, drinking throughout the day, though the amount of alcohol he reportedly consumed remains unclear.
He had 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, Winters went up to the children and gave them money to play games. Later, Winters began asking the children and manager about money he said was missing.
Winter and the victim allegedly left the bowling alley within a few minutes of each other. Winters reportedly told the boy he would show him his camp down by the river, but Winters later claimed the boy was helping him look for his missing money.
Investigators believe the pair walked to the intersection of 13th and Coulter, Johnson told jurors. It was unclear who led whom to the river.
The first story Winters told police, Johnson said, was that the boy stole Winters' bags. Winters reportedly said he chased the boy to the river, jumped in, hit his head and later woke up with the boy nowhere to be found.
But Johnson said that story doesn't hold water, because police officers later found where Winters had allegedly hidden his bags before heading to the river.
The state alleged 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, court documents say, 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.
"I feel like we all have seen and understand what happened in this case," Assistant District Attorney Brett Johnson said in his closing argument Thursday afternoon.
"He'll never be the same kid," Johnson concluded.