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Fugitives nabbed near Meeteetse face meth charges

An armed couple sought by U.S. Marshals led a Wyoming Highway patrolman on a high-speed chase last month that ended only after their car got stuck and an attempt to hide in a creek failed.

Police say Nicole Rae Presfield, 32, and Raymond Lee Norcutt Sr., 57, gave fake names and fled after being pulled over for speeding on July 17 on Wyoming Highway 120 between Thermopolis and Meeteetse.

Their reluctance at being identified apparently had to do with the fact that Presfield was wanted on a federal warrant alleging she had roughly 500 grams of methamphetamine in her RV back in March, while the Utah Department of Corrections had been seeking Norcutt’s arrest for more than a year and a half on a parole violation.

Police describe Presfield and Norcutt as being from the Casper area, though each have used Cody addresses.

Both stand charged in U.S. District Court with a felony count alleging they possessed at least 50 grams of meth with intent to deliver it, while a second count alleges they and others conspired to possess and deliver the drug over the past year.

On Aug. 12 in Casper, Presfield and Norcutt each pleaded not guilty to the two charges. U.S. Magistrate Michael Shickich ordered them held in federal custody pending an Oct. 7 trial date.

Presfield and Norcutt had eluded law enforcement until Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper Brandon Kidgell pulled them over for driving 72 miles an hour on Wyo. Highway 120, about 15 miles south of Meeteetse.

Presfield identified herself as Michigan native April Dull and Norcutt, riding shotgun, identified himself as Allen Bauer, Kidgell recounted in an sworn statement used to support the couple’s July 17 arrests.

“Dull” said her only identification was a Social Security card, so Kidgell asked the woman to come to his patrol car and get things squared away.

“She acted extremely nervous and asked to put a jacket on, though it was 90 degrees outside,” Kidgell wrote. “She reached underneath the driver’s seat and looked at the passenger. I commanded her to put her hands on the steering wheel. And I commanded her not to move.”

Instead, “Dull” put the 2008 Chevrolet Impala in drive and sped away north, towards Meeteetse.

Kidgell clocked the vehicle going up to 105 miles per hour as it fled.

He said the Impala dropped to 70 miles per hour while going through the town of Meeteetse, where the speed limit dips to 30.

About a mile north of town, the vehicle slowed and turned onto a dirt road. A half-mile later, it went into an irrigation ditch and stuck.

“Dull” and “Bauer” got out and began running, Kidgell wrote. The trooper, with gun drawn, commanded the pair to stop, but they did not — jumping a fence, running across a long field and into a creek bottom.

Kidgell followed at a distance until backup arrived in the form of Trooper Richard Scovel and, a bit later, Park County Sheriff’s Deputy Joe Wagers.

“(A)fter several minutes of searching, we found the couple lying in the creek, with their heads just above water,” Kidgell wrote, adding that, “after we commanded them out of the creek, we arrested them without incident.”

In the Impala, troopers found a 9mm Ruger handgun on the passenger seat, a .22 caliber Taurus pistol in the trunk, $3,146 in cash, two extra sets of Montana license plates, two additional Social Security cards with different names, registration printouts for different vehicles, information about Montana identification laws and, inside a black cosmetics bag, a pipe with traces of methamphetamine.

In a pat down, the troopers found “Dull” was carrying a driver’s license for a Nicole MacDonald — also known as Nicole Presfield.

According to Kidgell, Presfield later admitted to Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation agent Darrell Steward that she’d tried to make a fake ID card after learning of the warrant for her arrest.

She also admitted to having hidden additional cash; in the presence of a female DCI agent, “MacDonald removed $1,950 from her bra” — the bills still wet from hiding in the creek, Kidgell wrote.

Norcutt continued to identify himself as Bauer in court paperwork he signed the day after his arrest. However, Trooper Kidgell said he ultimately fessed up to being Raymond Norcutt Sr. while speaking with Steward.

Park County Attorney Bryan Skoric initially charged Norcutt and Presfield (under the name MacDonald) with felony counts of escaping from official detention while armed, but later offered a deal to let the federal cases proceed. Both defendants pleaded guilty to interference with police and Presfield admitted to reckless driving; Skoric dismissed the other counts without prejudice.

“Obviously, the gravity of the sentences and the conduct of what they did here was minimal to what they’re facing in the federal (system),” Skoric said, noting the allegations in Park County can be dealt with as a part of the federal cases.

A federal grand jury indictment issued against Norcutt and Presfield last month alleges the couple conspired to possess and deliver at least 50 grams of meth between August 2012 and their July 17 arrest “with other persons both known and unknown to the grand jury.”

The other count in the indictment alleges they possessed at least 50 grams of meth on March 12 — the day Presfield’s RV was searched by law enforcement in Casper.

Casper police, responding to a morning noise complaint, found Presfield in the vehicle and placed her under arrest after she tried using the name “Sherry Mills” and was found with what officers believed was marijuana, charging documents say.

Presfield pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges at a Circuit Court appearance later that day, posted a $1,500 bond and was released.

Casper police, meanwhile, had summoned Bill Arnold — a DCI task force officer — after finding the suspected marijuana, $13,500 in cash, several license plates and several cell phones inside the RV.

Casper police obtained a search warrant and that night, they found about 500 grams of what appeared to be methamphetamine in variously sized plastic bags, Arnold said in an affidavit. The search also turned up scales with meth residue, small bags for packaging and what police believed to be chocolate-covered, hallucinogenic mushrooms, the affidavit says.

The officers later called it a night, re-sealed the RV and secured it in a locked vehicle yard. When police returned on the morning of March 13, however, Arnold said they discovered someone had broken in. Burglary tools were found underneath the RV.

It appeared, Arnold said, that whoever had broken in went to the bedroom location where the suspected methamphetamine had been stored. If they were looking to recover the drugs, however, it was too late; law enforcement seized the material before leaving the RV.

No one has been charged with breaking into the vehicle.

On April 10, Arnold’s affidavit was filed in U.S. District Court in Casper and a warrant issued for her arrest for possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.

The Wyoming Fugitive Taskforce, led by the U.S. Marshals Service, announced on its Facebook page in May that it was seeking Presfield on the federal warrant and Norcutt, her boyfriend, on the Utah warrant.

Norcutt had been paroled in December 2010 on a conviction — Norcutt says a wrongful one — for operating a clandestine drug lab. Utah’s parole board issued a warrant for Norcutt’s arrest in November 2011 after he failed to report to his parole supervisor as required and failed to complete substance abuse treatment, said Stephen Gehrke, a spokesman for the Utah Department of Correction.

With the active warrant, “I haven’t been working and using my Social Security number,” Norcutt said at a Park County Circuit Court appearance.

Norcutt admitted he’d violated his parole conditions in Utah. He began to explain it had to do with his father being sick, but Circuit Court Judge Bruce Waters cut Norcutt off, warning the admission could be used against him down the road.

The federal drug charges faced by Norcutt and Presfield each theoretically carries a minimum of 10 years in prison.

Both defendants have prior felony convictions, according to statements Skoric made in court last month. It didn’t go unnoticed by Judge Waters, who made an impromptu aside to Norcutt.

“Of course, if you’re a felon in possession of a firearm,” the judge said, “who knows what other charges may be coming up somewhere down the line.”

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