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Powell man pleads not guilty in murder case

David Williamson David Williamson

A Powell man charged with second-degree murder in connection with his wife’s killing has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

However, at Wednesday’s arraignment hearing in Park County’s District Courtroom, the presiding judge also agreed to order a pre-sentence report for David Williamson — an indication that the prosecution and defense expect to eventually reach some kind of plea deal in the case.

Williamson, 64, is alleged to have fatally shot his wife, 65-year-old Shirley Williamson, on Aug. 26.

Shirley Williamson had been suffering from mental health issues and had lost her vision, according to court documents. David Williamson reportedly told a Park County Sheriff’s Office investigator that his wife had tried shooting him with an unloaded gun and asked for him to kill her. Williamson also said his wife “was in a better place now” and that her death was “instant,” Investigator Phil Johnson recounted in an affidavit filed with the case.

Williamson called 911 after the incident and responding deputies found him sitting on the front porch.

“I’m the one that killed her. That’s all you need to know,” Williamson reportedly told Johnson when the investigator arrived at the couple’s Lane 11 home.

The Park County Attorney’s Office has charged Williamson with second-degree murder — alleging he killed Shirley Williamson “purposely and maliciously, but without premeditation.”

The possibility of a plea deal was mentioned in a court filing relatively early in the case.

Williamson’s court-appointed defense attorney, Tim Blatt, wrote on Oct. 2 that he and the county attorney’s office “are in negotiations with regard to this matter.”

Although no details were put on the record on Wednesday, Blatt and Deputy Park County Attorney Leda Pojman jointly requested that a pre-sentence investigation (PSI) be prepared. The routine reports, compiled by probation/parole officers with the Wyoming Department of Corrections, describe a defendant’s background, the crime and typically make a recommendation about whether prison time or probation is appropriate. The information is then considered by the judge during a sentencing hearing.

Because the reports take weeks to prepare — and generally must be available at least 10 days before sentencing — attorneys often request them when they have a plea deal in place or believe one will be reached.

“Just like any criminal case, I have been in discussions with the State about this case,”  Blatt said in an Wednesday evening email. “Based on my position on this case, I am hoping a PSI might shed some light that would be helpful ... towards a resolution, but no [specific] negotiations have been discussed at this time.” 

Blatt added that he's looking forward to reviewing the discovery materials — effectively, any relevant information that prosecutors have gathered — which he said he'll start to receive. 

Pojman declined to comment on the status of any plea negotiations.

Any deal would need to be approved by presiding District Court Judge Bill Simpson. In the meantime, a trial is tentatively set to start on April 12.

Williamson was arrested at his home on the morning of Aug. 26 and has been held in jail since then, with bail set at $700,000.

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