Casper Man Accused of Murder, Attempted Murder Bound Over for Trial
A Casper man charged with one count of second-degree murder and one count of attempted second-degree murder will face trial in Natrona County District Court.
George Dickerson, 61, was bound over for trial on Thursday at the end of an 80-minute preliminary hearing before Circuit Court Judge Brian Christensen.
The charges are:
- One count of second-degree murder -- that is, without premeditation -- in the death of Andy William Martin Jr., 75.
- One count of attempted second-degree murder -- that is, without premeditation -- in the wounding of Rose Dennis.
If convicted, each count is punishable by at least 20 years imprisonment.
A standing-room crowd of the victims' relatives, law enforcement officers, attorneys and other filled the circuit courtroom on the fifth floor of the Townsend Justice Center.
Dickerson was the only defendant during the preliminary hearing, during which the state showed probable cause that a crime was committed and the accused probably committed it.
District Attorney Dan Itzen called Casper Police Detective Tiffany Elhart as his only witness to recount what she and other officers learned during the development of the case that began for them at 6:51 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 8.
At the beginning of the hearing, Elhart identified Dickerson, who was sitting at a table beside his Public Defender Marty Scott.
Itzen then played the recording of the 911 call from Dickerson to dispatch.
Dickerson identified himself, and told the dispatcher he wanted to report a double homicide at 1676 Begonia St.
She asked who did it and he responded that he did.
She asked who died and he responded that it was his mother-in-law and her husband. He named them, said he didn't have the weapon on him, and that he did it last night.
The dispatcher asked Dickerson how he killed them.
He responded that he went to the house to confront Martin about the rude way he had been treating Dennis' caregivers, Martin attacked him, and "I just lost it."
Dennis then jumped on Dickerson and he attacked her, too.
He used a kitchen knife for the stabbing.
Dickerson told the dispatcher that the bodies were in the master bedroom on the first floor of the house.
He also told her that he was at the Loaf 'n Jug convenience store at the Sunrise Mall on South Poplar Street, described what he was wearing and the color of the SUV he drove there, and responded that he didn't have any weapons on him.
They ended the call with "bye" "bye."
During the questioning, Itzen used a Power Point program to show crime scene photos from the Begonia residence. Those photos included drops of blood on the kitchen floor, the master bedroom, the bodies, a knife, Martin's autopsy and Dennis' injuries.
Elhart recounted some of the health difficulties Martin and Dennis were having. They needed help with dressing and toileting, how they were not steady on their feet and needed to hang on to each other when they went out.
A few years ago, Martin suffered a traumatic brain injury, which affected his speech including angry outbursts. He told the caregivers they weren't welcome in the house but he was never violent towards them, Elhart said.
The couple's children had been trying to relocate Dennis to an assisted living center, she said.
Officers were able to enter the house on Begonia, declared themselves, thought they heard moaning and went to the master bedroom to find Martin and a barely alive Dennis.
They were apparently getting ready for bed, she said.
An officer checked for Martin's vital signs, found he had none and observed the body was cool meaning that Wright had been dead for a few hours, Elhart said.
Dennis was taken to the Banner Health Wyoming Medical Center for treatment. Doctors and nurses found she had three stab wounds - one on one side of the neck and two on the other side.
A cut on her lower lip was so deep and long that it went to an eye, which caused a brain wound, Elhart said.
"Everything they had to do was life-saving," she said.
Dennis has made some improvement since the attack. Her breathing tube has been removed and she has been able to open her eyes.
After Dickenson's call to dispatch, officers arrived at the Loaf 'n Jug, where they met him and described him as cooperative.
They, too, asked him what happened and he recounted what he told the dispatcher, adding "I think my brain is broken."
Elhart said officers arrested him and booked him in the Natrona County Detention Center. The SUV was taken to a secure location and searched. In it, they found a bloody washcloth and pillow, a knife, and a bath mat that matched one in the basement of the Martin and Dennis residence.
During the investigation at the Begonia house and Dickerson's house at 2520 Navarre Road, officers used Bluestar Forensic Blood Reagent to find evidence of blood not visible to the naked eye, Elhart said.
At the Martin and Dennis house, the Bluestar test found traces of blood on the kitchen floor, in the bathroom, a stove and a kitchen drawer, she said.
Dickerson apparently made some effort to clean the crime scene, noting the placement of a rug, which had no apparent evidence of blood on top. An officer lifted the rug and found it and a rubber mat underneath were saturated with blood, Elhart said.
Officers also searched Dickerson's house, where they found evidence of blood downstairs.
Elhart said Dickerson sometimes worked as a handyman at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, 4700 S. Poplar St., and officers went there to search.
They found a black plastic bag in one trash container with clothing with blood on it, Elhart said. That trash bag matched bags found at the Begonia residence.
Police also reviewed surveillance camera and light from a house near the Martin and Dennis residence on Begonia, Elhart said. At 8:53 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 7, the motion-activated camera took a photo of what looked like a dark SUV. Something activated the light and camera at 9:03 p.m., but no vehicle was there.
Elhart said Martin's autopsy was performed in Nebraska.
Martin's body had been cleaned, which revealed details about his injuries including stab wounds and blunt force trauma. Martin bled out from a branching vein from an artery.
The pathologist found a few defensive wounds on Martin's hands, Elhart said.
He also told investigators that Martin would have survived if he received immediate treatment.
During cross-examination, Scott questioned Elhart about technical matters regarding finger prints, knives and Bluestar, specifically if items other than blood could alert to the chemical.
Elhart responded that some chemicals can positively react to Bluestar, but those reactions look different with blood. Besides using Bluestar, officers take swabs of suspected blood.
After Scott's cross-examination, Christensen said he found probable cause and bound the case over for trial.
Scott asked the judge to modify Dickerson's bond from $600,000 cash-only to $300,000 cash or surety, saying the attack appeared to be an isolated event in his life.
However, Itzen responded saying the bond is appropriate, in part because no new information has been submitted to alter the circumstances of the crime. Dickerson has had alcohol-related issues and he was convicted in 2011 for a domestic violence act against his wife.
Christensen said the bond will continue.
The next step in the criminal proceeding when Dickerson appears in Natrona County District Court for his arraignment when he will enter a plea. If he enters a not guilty plea, the case will be scheduled for trial.