Man Accused in Casper Shooting Denies First-Degree Murder Charge
The man accused of fatally shooting another man in north Casper early last month entered a not guilty plea Tuesday afternoon in Natrona County District Court.
Jason Tsosie John, 32, is charged with a single count of first-degree murder. He could face the death penalty or life in prison if convicted, under state statute.
However, Assistant District Attorney Trevor Schenk told District Judge Catherine Wilking during Tuesday's hearing that prosecutors will not seek the death penalty.
Schenk also said that it would be appropriate to hold a scheduling conference before the case proceeds to trial. He said that prosecutors anticipate a trial in this case would last no more than five days.
Prosecutors allege that John fatally shot 29-year-old Wesley Willow, Jr., inside John's trailer home at 1250 N. Center St., Space No. 75 early on the morning of August 3. Police received a 911 call regarding the shooting at 4:12 a.m.
According to charging documents, investigators believe John got into an argument with Willow's then-girlfriend via text message. John reportedly sent threatening text messages to the woman, daring her to come to his trailer home to fight him.
Willow, his then-girlfriend and another man went to John's home that morning. A witness said that Willow approached John's trailer home and was struck by gunfire from within the trailer while he was on the porch.
Through his attorneys, John told investigators that Willow had threatened to come to his home to assault him. John claimed to have been holding an AR-15/M4-style rifle on his porch and warned the three others to stay away, as they approached.
John claims to have shot Willow in self-defense after Willow charged at John inside the trailer home.
Police describe Willow as having stood 5'7" tall and having weighed 160 pounds, while John is 6'4" and weighs 275 pounds.
After Willow's body was moved from the floor inside John's trailer home, investigators found three bullet holes in the floor where the body had been. According to an affidavit of probable cause, evidence technicians said the bullet trajectories were consistent with a person having fired the rifle from a standing position, directly down into a target above which the shooter was standing.
Police found multiple entry wounds to the front and back of Willow's body. Bullets penetrated his body at an upward angle, despite the height difference between Willow and John.
John was free on bond at the time of Tuesday's arraignment.
Roughly 15 of the victim's family and friends were present in the courtroom. After court adjourned and Judge Wilking left, a deputy asked them to leave.
As they began to file out, several people shouted and cursed at John, who remained seated at a table with his attorneys. At least one person yelled at a group of people who were there in support of John.
Following the outbursts, deputies escorted those people who had yelled or cursed out of the courtroom. Several people held each other and sobbed in the hallway outside the courtroom for a few minutes before leaving the courthouse.