Tennessee Man Sentenced to Boot Camp for Pointing Gun at Casper Teens
A man who pointed a gun at two teenagers in west Casper in April was sentenced to boot camp and probation during a hearing in Natrona County District Court on Thursday.
Judge Catherine Wilking sentenced Michael W. McLaughlin, 23, to two suspended concurrent three- to five-year prison terms at the Wyoming State Penitentiary, provided he successfully completes the boot camp program in Newcastle.
In September, McLaughlin pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated assault and battery. Two other counts -- aggravated robbery and possession of a deadly weapon with unlawful intent -- were dismissed.
The plea was an Alford Plea, which means the defendant does not admit that they are guilty of the crime charged, but they concede that the prosecution would likely be able to obtain a conviction at trial. For sentencing purposes, an Alford plea is functionally similar to a guilty plea.
During the hearing Thursday, Assistant District Attorney Dan Itzen recounted the elements of the crime on April 20 when three teenagers told Casper police investigators that they were walking in a neighborhood near Robertson Road.
Mclaughlin approached them, asked what day it was, asked if he knew where he could buy marijuana, and asked if any of them would trade marijuana for a gun he showed them.
One of the teens received a phone call from his father, so he and another teen stepped away. As they walked away, the third teen was left alone with Mclaughlin.
Mclaughlin pocketed the gun, then pulled it back out and pointed it at the teen's head, telling the boy to empty his pockets.
"Back where I come from in Memphis, Tennessee, they do this," Mclaughlin told the boy. He then took a step back and fired one shot, with the bullet flying past the boy's right ear.
The other two teens returned to the scene, and Mclaughlin pressed the muzzle of the gun against another teen's chest.
Itzen said he disagreed with the presentence investigation's recommendation that McLaughlin only receive boot camp and probation, because the crime was serious and the teens weren't looking for trouble. "They were just a bunch of kids being kids."
However, McLaughlin's public defender Rob Oldham said he did not agree with the teens' recounting of the incident, but agreed that his client was at fault. "What Michael did was stupid."
Boot camp, Oldham added, is prison and spending time there will address McLaughlin's substance abuse and other issues.
He also said McLaughlin has been working out and looks forward to what he will learn in boot camp.
McLaughlin apologized to the court for his behavior.
Wilking said she reluctantly agreed with the presentence investigation's recommendation, but warned McLaughlin that he will be sent directly to prison if he violates any of the boot camp's rules.