Wyoming Supreme Court again orders district judge to resentence man in home-invasion killing

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CHEYENNE, Wyoming — For the second time, the Wyoming Supreme Court has ordered a Sheridan judge to resentence one of three men convicted of murder in a 2009 home-invasion killing.

The high court on Wednesday ordered Judge John Fenn to resentence 21-year-old Wyatt Bear Cloud after considering his murder, aggravated burglary and conspiracy convictions as a package.

The court previously ordered Fenn to resentence Bear Cloud only on his murder conviction.

The court order on Wednesday, written by Justice Kate Fox, doesn't specify what sentence Bear Cloud should receive.

Bear Cloud was 16 when he and two other teenagers broke into the home of Sheridan businessman Robert Ernst, and one of the other teens shot Ernst. All three were prosecuted as adults.

Fenn initially sentenced Bear Cloud to life following his guilty pleas to the charges and the state Supreme Court upheld that sentence.

However, the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012 banned mandatory life sentences for juveniles and ordered the resentencing of Bear Cloud.

In the meantime, the Wyoming Legislature early last year changed state law to specify that juveniles convicted of murder will be eligible for parole after serving 25 years, provided they don't commit other crimes in prison.

In response to the U.S. Supreme Court order, the Wyoming high court ordered Fenn to resentence Bear Cloud. He gave the defendant life in prison on the murder conviction with a chance for parole after serving 25 years on that charge. He would have faced at least about 35 years in prison altogether.

In Wednesday's ruling, Fox stated, "the guidance we provided in Bear Cloud II was incorrect in one critical respect: We remanded to the district court for resentencing only on the first-degree murder conviction, rather than on all counts."

David Delicath, a lawyer with the Wyoming Attorney General's Office, declined comment on the Wednesday ruling.

Two other defendants in the Ernst killing received sentences of life without parole. The younger defendant, triggerman Dharminder Vir Sen, was resentenced recently to make him eligible for parole after serving 35 years. He is appealing that sentence.

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