Wyoming DOC Says Convicted Murderer’s Failure to Appear Not Their Fault
On Thursday, The Wyoming Department of Corrections announced that when convicted murderer Dale Eaton failed to appear for his sentencing hearing in the Seventh District Court, it wasn't their fault.
Earlier in the week, it was reported by news outlets that the Department of Corrections had "failed to deliver" Eaton to his scheduled sentencing hearing.
"Despite the transport order being entered in November, Eaton was not transported," District Judge Forgey announced to the court. "He's not here."
Sheila Kimmell, mother of victim Lisa Marie Kimmell, burst into tears upon news that Eaton was not present.
"I want him here," she cried. "This is my last time; to be re-victimized by the state after all this."
Judge Forgey stated that this mistake was not something he took lightly.
Now, the Department of Corrections is saying the mistake was not because of them.
"In our review, we exhausted every avenue of communication to include a thorough analysis of all electronic communications related to inmate transports," said Daniel Shannon, Director of the Wyoming Department of Corrections. "We have conducted numerous interviews, collected statements from Departmental staff, as well as from other agencies."
He continued, stating that the department "unequivocally asserts we never received the transport order for inmate Eaton to attend this important January 2022 hearing. The process broke down exterior to the WDOC and inmate Eaton appropriately remained in our custody at his assigned facility."
Eaton was found guilty of the premeditated murder, kidnapping, aggravated robbery, and sexual assault of Lisa Maria Kimmell. He was found guilty on March 17, 2004 and was sentenced to death on March 20, 2004. However in 2013 Eaton petitioned the court for a Writ of Habeas Corpus, which Judge Alan B. Johnson granted, finding that Eaton was prejudiced by the constitutionally deficient performance of trial and appellate counsel.
His death sentence was vacated and now Eaton awaits a new sentencing.