The case of a Casper man facing the death penalty took a step forward Wednesday morning.

Dale Wayne Eaton, convicted for raping and killing a woman decades ago, will spend 30 days at the Wyoming State Hospital in Evanston. During that time, mental health professionals will evaluate whether Eaton is competent to be sentenced.

Eaton appealed his death sentence to the US Supreme Court in 2019. Last year, the Supreme Court denied that appeal.

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The brutal kidnapping, rape and murder of the 18-year-old Kimmel drew national attention and was known as the 'Lil Miss murder case because that was the license plate on her car.

She was found in the North Platte River at Government Bridge in Natrona County on April 2, 1988. She was driving from Denver to her home in Billings, Mont., and was to pick up her boyfriend in Cody. He called to report that she never arrived.

The cases remained unsolved until 2002 when researchers found DNA from her rape kit matched Eaton's, who had owned property in Moneta between Casper and Shoshoni. Her car was unearthed on the property that summer.

Eaton, now 75, was tried and convicted in March 2004 on all counts in Natrona County District Court, and the judge sentenced him to death, according to the summary of the case in a July 23, 2019, ruling by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

Natrona County District Attorney Dan Itzen filed a motion in August 2019 stating he will seek the death penalty.

According to a court filing, Eaton was convicted of premeditated first-degree murder, felony murder in the perpetration of kidnapping, felony murder in the perpetration of a robbery and felony murder in the perpetration of a sexual assault.

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