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Defendant charged with involuntary manslaughter in January sentenced to prison

Family's request to keep victim's memorial at Frontier Mall denied

Tirso Munguia

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A 19-year-old Cheyenne man accused of involuntary manslaughter in a January shooting that claimed the life of a teenage girl will serve up to two decades in prison on the charge.

Tirso Munguia was sentenced to 15–20 years by District Court Judge Ed Buchanan on Monday, Sept. 25, according to a Laramie County Sheriff’s Office booking sheet. A deputy took Munguia into custody without incident after the sentencing.

Munguia, who pleaded guilty to the involuntary manslaughter charge on May 1, is one of three defendants in the case. The other two are Sarah Heath, 26, and Cody Nicholson, 18.

Nicholson signed a plea deal on July 25, pleading guilty to accessory after the fact to manslaughter. His sentence will include two to three years of imprisonment and participation in a Youth Offender Program through the Wyoming Department of Corrections.

Heath was sentenced Aug. 22 to 32–36 months in prison for accessory after the fact to manslaughter. She is to serve that time after serving one and a half years in county jail on three counts of contributing to minors and one count of possession of marijuana. Health was sentenced to six months on each count, with the possession charge sentence to be served concurrently.

The shooting claimed the life of 16-year-old Angelina Harrison, who was a student at Triumph High School. She is memorialized at Frontier Mall, and the family is petitioning to keep the memorial in place after mall management informed them it must come down on Sept. 30. The family heard Sept. 25 that the mall will not reconsider allowing the memorial to stay.

On Monday, Jan. 9 at about 6 p.m., Cheyenne Police Department officers were dispatched to a report of a shooting in the area of Frontier Mall at 1400 Dell Range Blvd. Responding officers secured the area and found a 16-year-old female victim with an apparent gunshot wound. Medical personnel declared her deceased, police said.

Officers learned that four people were traveling in a vehicle together at the time of the incident. The suspects, Munguia and Nicholson, were seated in the back, while the victim and another female were
seated in the front.

In February 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 that 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. 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, he said during February testimony. 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 and changed her story, saying she did know Nicholson and that she gave a false statement before because she knew he had a warrant. She said she was attempting to copy the story Munguia gave, adding 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 said she had provided them with alcohol and knew they were underage, the court was told.