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Death penalty?

County attorney still undecided on Clark murder cases

Four months after the murder of a Clark woman and her parents, Park County Attorney Bryan Skoric continues to mull whether to seek the death penalty for the two suspects.

“No decision’s been made yet on that case,” Skoric told Park County commissioners on Wednesday.

There currently is no deadline for Skoric to decide whether he’ll ask for the execution of 19-year-old suspects Tanner B. Vanpelt and Stephen F. Hammer, who are each charged with first-degree murder. Despite the lack of a deadline, Skoric told commissioners to expect his decision on the death penalty within the next 60 days.

Vanpelt and Hammer are alleged to have shot and killed Ildiko Freitas, 40, mother Hildegard Volgyesi, 70, and father Janos Volgyesi, 69, on March 2 at their Clark home. Police say the handguns used in the murders had been stolen from a Cody pawn store several days earlier.

Park County Sheriff Scott Steward has said Hammer knew Freitas from when his family lived in Clark, and that the only apparent motive for the killings was to steal Freitas’ Audi A4.

Charging documents — based on admissions Vanpelt and Hammer allegedly made after their arrests — say Hammer played a lesser role in the shootings.

Hammer and Vanpelt each pleaded not guilty to the 11 felony charges they face during District Court appearances in May. A trial date has yet to be set.

The allegations against Vanpelt and Hammer appear to allow Skoric to ask a jury to consider the death penalty.

First, the two young men are alleged to have committed first-degree murder, with the charges alleging the murders involved premeditation and occurred while Hammer and Vanpelt were committing a robbery.

Secondly, the crime meets at least two of the aggravating circumstances that make a defendant eligible for the death penalty in Wyoming: there were multiple people killed and two were over the age of 65.

All those allegations would have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt before the death penalty could be imposed.

Park County commissioners have decided not to set aside money for the two men’s trials in the coming fiscal year because of the uncertainty over whether the cases will actually go to trial and what exactly they would cost to try.

Hammer and Vanpelt continue to be held in the Park County Detention Center without bail.

1 comment

  • posted by Russ Harman

    July 03, 2013 9:14 pm

    They were either high on drugs or pulling a joke. Let the joke be on them.
    They have nothing to offer society.

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