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Details in Cheyenne manslaughter case emerge in preliminary hearing; case bound over to District Court

(Photo from the Laramie County Sheriff's Office)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The three suspects in a manslaughter investigation had their preliminary hearing in Laramie County Circuit Court today.

Judge Sean Chambers oversaw the proceedings, which were held to establish if there was probable cause for the case to be bound over to district court.

Sarah Heath, 26; Tirso Munguia, 19; and Cody Nicolson, 18, were all seen together.

The key witness for the hearing was Detective Alex Hoff of the Cheyenne Police Department. He is one of the detectives who has been investigating this case.

According to testimony from Hoff, a call came in on the evening of Jan. 9 reporting a shooting. While this call was being made, an off-duty officer saw Heath and Munguia acting frantically and pulled over to see if they needed help. She took over talking with dispatch, and upon coming to the scene she found a female victim unresponsive. After the call, she helped to remove the victim from the vehicle and had both Heath and Munguia assist in lifesaving measures.

More officers arrived, put Heath and Munguia in investigative detention and took them to the police department for questioning.

According to the testimony, Munguia said they were driving by the Walmart on Del Range Avenue when he heard a gunshot. He saw the victim bleeding, and when they pulled over, an unknown person exited the vehicle and ran. Heath gave a similar statement, saying she also did not know the fourth person in the vehicle.

This led the police to pull resources from the department to find the fourth person, who was later identified as Nicholson. About an hour and 45 minutes after the original call, Nicholson was found and arrested at his grandmother’s house.

He was taken to the police department soon after for questioning. He said he had known Heath and Munguia for several years. He said he had been picked up by Heath on Jan. 9, adding the victim was in the passenger seat, Heath was driving, Munguia was behind the victim, and he was seated behind Heath.

Nicholson said he brought a firearm with him and he placed it on the seat between him and Munguia, according to testimony. Munguia picked it up and was “manipulating it” when it went off and shot the victim. They pulled over soon after, at which point Nicholson ran because he knew he had an active warrant for probation violation and was scared, the court was told. He got a ride from a cousin and went to his grandmother’s house, where he put the gun in a closet.

On Jan. 17, Heath was interviewed again, at which point she changed her story, saying that she did know Nicholson and that she gave a false statement before because she knew he had a warrant and in an attempt to copy the story which Munguia gave, saying she had heard him tell an officer that he did not know Nicholson and that she just “went with it.” She then gave similar testimony as Nicholson and stated that she had provided them with alcohol and knew they were underage.

After the testimony from Hoff, Judge Chambers determined there was enough evidence for the case to be bound over to district court. He also adjusted the bonds of Nicholson and Munguia. Munguia’s bond is now at $75,000 cash only and Nicholson’s is at $50,000 cash or surety.


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