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Real fight follows Cody gunfight show

After a vacationing Minnesota couple’s viewing of a staged Wild West gunfight in Cody was disrupted by a noisy conversation on Saturday night, the couple allegedly got into a real fight.

Rick and Diane Sprague of Mankato, Minn., both are facing criminal charges in connection with an altercation that occurred shortly after they watched the nightly performance of the Cody Gunfighters in front of the Irma Hotel.

Rick Sprague, 54, has been charged with a felony count of aggravated assault that alleges he hit a 28-year-old Cody woman several times with a broken beer bottle while she was fighting with his wife. Rick Sprague’s bond was set at $8,000 cash at a Monday court appearance, and a preliminary hearing was set tentatively for Oct. 3.

“It was self-defense,” Sprague told Circuit Court Judge Bruce Waters during his appearance.

His wife, 53-year-old Diane Sprague, pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of battery. A trial has been set for Feb. 21. Her bond was set at $2,500 cash or surety. Diane Sprague questioned a condition requiring her not to drink or be in bars if she posts bond.

“I had one beer all day. For me it wasn’t a drunken thing, it was just being in the wrong place in the wrong time,” she said. Waters approved the alcohol restrictions.

Based on statements in court, neither of the Spragues have any previous criminal convictions.

Diane Sprague had asked the 28-year-old Cody woman and her companions to tone down their conversation so she and her husband could enjoy the gunfighters’ Saturday night show, according to a press release from Assistant Cody Police Chief George Menig. One of the Cody woman’s companions told police that, after the show ended, Diane Sprague approached the 28-year-old woman and flipped her off before walking away, according to charging documents. The Cody woman then followed and confronted Diane Sprague, who, according to the woman and her friend, then threw a first punch. The Cody woman returned blows, and the fight went to the ground, says an affidavit from Cody Police Officer Seth Horn that cites interviews with the Cody woman and her friend.

While the women were on the ground, Rick Sprague approached with a broken beer bottle and cut the Cody woman in the right arm and head, the woman reportedly told Horn. She was taken to West Park Hospital for treatment and later released while the Spragues were both arrested a short ways away.

The Cody woman was bleeding from two deep cuts on her forearm and two punctures on her scalp, Horn wrote, while Rick Sprague had a scratch on his forehead and Diane Sprague had red marks on her face.

With the altercation breaking out right after the gunfighters’ performance, it made for a strange scene in downtown Cody: tourists looked on and took pictures of the altercation’s aftermath, while the Cody woman waved and called out goodbyes to folks on the Irma’s porch as EMTs wheeled her gurney through the crowd to a waiting West Park ambulance.

Both Spragues will be hiring their own attorneys. Waters, noting the seriousness of the felony aggravated assault charge, cautioned Rick Sprague to be sure to make his court appearances in Park County if and when he posts bond and returns to Minnesota.

“I think you can probably get working through this, but you have to go through proper channels to get that done,” the judge said.

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