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From murder to manslaughter: Burns shooting case plea

(Photo from the Laramie County Sheriffs's Department)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Tyler Hill entered a guilty plea to involuntary manslaughter on April 1 following a fatal shooting incident last August. Originally charged with second-degree murder, Hill’s plea comes as part of an agreement, potentially leading up to 20 years in prison, with sentencing yet to be scheduled.

The Laramie County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call on August 23, 2023, at Teal Lane in Burns, where Deputy Fertig and Poteet discovered Ashley Bartel deceased from a gunshot wound. Early reports from the scene described a suspect fleeing in a red car, leading to a coordinated law enforcement response.

Prior to the emergency call, Deputy Poteet spotted a maroon Mazda near the Interstate 80 interchange that matched the later broadcasted description of the suspect’s vehicle. Pine Bluffs Police Chief Smith subsequently located and pursued the vehicle, leading to Hill’s arrest. Hill disclosed disposing of a firearm during the chase, according to the affidavit of probable cause.

Investigations revealed Hill and Bartel were part of a communal living arrangement on Teal Lane, along with several others. The conflict arose when Hill demanded car keys from Bartel, escalating to Hill firing a shot into the ground and then fatally shooting Bartel after a brief argument.

Witness Accounts

The property owner, witnessing parts of the altercation, described Hill’s aggressive behavior and the moments leading up to Bartel being shot and falling to the ground.

Rhonda “Melanie” Bryan, living on the property with her son Tyler Hill and in a relationship with Bartel, recounted the events leading to the shooting, according to the affidavit. According to Bryan, an argument over the use of Bartel’s vehicle escalated, with Hill eventually drawing a small black pistol. In the ensuing struggle, the gun discharged, killing Bartel.

Bryan’s statements highlight the chaotic and swift progression from verbal altercation to violent outcome, including her attempts to intervene and the immediate aftermath of the shooting.

The Laramie County Coroner’s Office confirmed Bartel’s cause of death as a gunshot wound to the head.

Hill’s guilty plea to involuntary manslaughter shifts the focus from his initial charge, reflecting the complexities of the case as revealed by detailed investigations and witness testimonies.