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Jury convicts Testerman of one count of sexual assault, acquits on two

Laramie County Governmental Complex is inlaid with a photo of Gabriel Testerman. (Laramie County Sheriff's Office)

POLICY: Defendants charged with sexual crimes are named as soon as Wyoming law allows. They are presumed innocent until proven guilty. As policy, Cap City News does not name sexual assault or rape victims unless the case goes to trial. When the case becomes an adversarial proceeding, we are obligated if we print either name to print both names.

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The high-profile trial of former Wyoming Highway Patrol Sergeant Gabriel Testerman concluded with a mixed verdict on Thursday, marking a significant moment in a case that has taken more than a year to reach trial.

The jury found Testerman guilty of first-degree sexual assault against Cecilia “Cici” Mohren, but acquitted him on charges of first-degree digital penetration and first-degree sexual intercourse against Chelsea Buckholtz. The jury took about four hours of deliberation to reach a verdict.

Opening Statements Revisited

The trial began with the prosecution outlining two alleged incidents of sexual assault, presenting Testerman as a figure of dual identities — a respected law enforcement officer and a predator. The narrative focused on a fractured friendship and a distressing assault on Buckholtz, and a separate incident involving Mohren after a night out at Cheyenne Frontier Days.

The defense contested the prosecution’s portrayal, arguing the sexual activities were consensual and pointing out inconsistencies in the accusers’ stories. They highlighted Testerman’s confusion during Buckholtz’s alleged assault, emphasizing her autonomy and questioning the investigation’s thoroughness.

Closing Arguments Reflect Trial’s Intensity

The prosecution’s closing remarks underscored the seriousness of the charges, focusing on the April 2022 assault against Buckholtz. They scrutinized the friendly nature of text exchanges and the substantial risks the accusers faced by coming forward.

The narrative dismissed the notion of a conspiracy against Testerman as a fiction of his own making.

The defense reiterated doubts about the accusers’ reliability, citing their blackouts and arguing that evidence of a consensual encounter was misinterpreted as aggression. They suggested the accusers’ motives were influenced by external relationships.

Verdict and Background

With Testerman found guilty of first-degree sexual assault, the trial’s outcome emphasizes the complexities surrounding cases of sexual misconduct involving figures of authority. Testerman’s arrest on Aug 30, 2022, initiated by the Cheyenne Police Department’s investigation, led to his administrative leave from the WHP.

Due to a conflict in the case, the Laramie County District Attorney’s Office contacted Sweetwater County Attorney Daniel Erramouspe to handle the case, with Erramouspe filing the charges against Testerman.

The trial has faced multiple delays, initially set for Jan. 10, 2023, then moved to March 13 and Aug. 28 before finally commencing on Jan. 29, 2024.

This verdict closes a chapter on a case that has prompted discussions on trust, accountability and the legal system’s handling of sexual assault allegations against law enforcement personnel.

Sentencing will take place at a later date. Testerman will remain on bond until sentencing but under an increased no contact list and restricted to Laramie and Albany counties.