Federal Judge Denies Ex-Wyoming Trooper’s Sentence In Kidnapping Plot
A former Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment for a kidnapping and murder plot lost an appeal of his sentence in federal court on Tuesday.
"In the present case, the Court is denying Mr. (Franklin) Ryle's Motion on procedural grounds, namely the timeliness of the Motion," U.S. District Court Judge Alan Johnson wrote.
Franklin Joseph Ryle, Jr., of Douglas illegally arrested and kidnapped a Walmart truck driver near Douglas in January 2009, and used his service weapon in the arrest.
He pleaded guilty in July 2009 and was sentenced in November to 10 years, one month imprisonment for depriving a person of his rights while acting under color of law (as a trooper); and a consecutive five years for possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. A third count of solicitation to commit a crime of violence was dismissed at sentencing.
In his appeal in August, Ryle claimed the sentence for the possession of a firearm should be reversed because the law is unconstitutionally vague, his attorneys were ineffective because they failed to appeal the sentence and they failed to ask for a competency hearing, and that the prosecutor recommended a larger sentence at the sentencing hearing than the one recommended as part of the plea agreement, according to the motion filed by his attorney Michael Stulken of Green River.
Ryle did not file an appeal earlier for several reasons: the case law about the unconstitutionality of the firearm sentence was not decided until December 2016; he initially was imprisoned far from his family and an attorney to help him file his appeal; and was in a reduced mental state because of severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Some issues during his career, such as his inability to save a girl in an ATV accident personal problems, resulted in depression and PTSD that influenced the kidnapping plot and the delay in filing an appeal, Stulken wrote.
But Johnson responded to these and other arguments, writing that Ryle did not pursue his claims to the best of his ability and that his circumstances were not so difficult that they prevented him from filing his petition in a timely manner. Ryle, among other problems with his appeal, spoke only once to an attorney and that did not excuse him from pursuing the appeal, the judge wrote.
Ryle claimed he had an extended and severely reduced mental state that affected his ability to file his appeal.
But Johnson responded that his mental state was not so severe that it required institutionalization or being judged incompetent. Ryle also agreed with the court's statement that he was found "'very competent'" at his change-of-plea hearing.
Because Ryle's petition was untimely, Johnson wrote that the court will not hold a hearing about whatever merits the other aspects of his appeal might have had.