District Attorney for the First Judicial District of Wyoming, Leigh Anne Grant Manlove, issued the following statement regarding the dismissal of the single count of second-degree murder against Benjamin Ketcham (CR-2020-882).
“After a thorough briefing by detectives from the Cheyenne Police Department regarding their investigation, and an analysis of those facts under Wyoming law, I made the only decision I could, which was to dismiss Mr. Ketcham’s case,” Manlove said.
“Based on the information available on May 22, 2020, there was probable cause to believe that Mr. Ketcham committed the crime of second-degree murder,” Manlove said. “But as the investigation matured and the facts were fully developed, it became clear that under Wyoming’s reasonable defensive force law, Wyoming Statute § 6-6-602, Mr. Ketcham is immune from prosecution,” Manlove said.
“It is my hope that this information will not just inform, but help the public to understand that while Wyoming law provides for immunity for an individual who exercised reasonable force in self defense, it is only available under certain, narrow, factual circumstances,” Manlove said. “Those facts were present in Mr. Ketcham’s case, but I have deep concerns that this dismissal will be misconstrued as a ‘get out of jail free card’ for anyone who wants to use lethal force for any reason,” she said. “It is not,” Manlove said.
“The charges against Benjamin Ketcham will be dismissed and he will be released from custody,” Manlove said. “Wyoming Statute § 6-6-602, although it is new, is very clear: it prohibits the prosecution of an individual who, under certain facts, was justified in the use of self-defense force,” Manlove said.
“In this discussion we have to remember, and be sensitive to the sad truth, that a man lost his life,” Manlove said. “Aaron Briggs was someone’s son, someone’s father, someone’s friend, and they will always mourn his premature death,” Manlove said.
__ W.S. § 6-6-602(f) reads:
A person who uses reasonable defensive force as defined by subsection (a) of this section shall not be criminally prosecuted for that use of reasonable defensive force.
W.S. § 6-6-602(a) defines reasonable defensive force as follows:
The use of defensive force whether actual or threatened, is reasonable when it is the defensive force that a reasonable person in like circumstances would judge necessary to prevent an injury or loss, and no more, including deadly force if necessary to prevent imminent death or serious bodily injury to the person employing the deadly force or to another person. As used in this subsection, “necessary to prevent” includes a necessity that arises from an honest belief that the danger exists whether the danger is real or apparent.
The State’s Motion to Dismiss Without Prejudice, and the supporting Affidavit of Probable Cause, dated May 29, 2020, are attached to this press release.
For additional information regarding a case or a defendant, please contact the Clerk of Circuit Court at 307.633.4254, or the Clerk of District Court at 307.633.4270.