A 22-year-old Cody man will receive 43 days in jail for breaking another man’s arm and fracturing his skull with an AR-15, swinging the weapon like a baseball bat. Tristen Bishop also must pay $4,976.62 restitution for the injuries and property damage he caused.
That victim, William Walbert, initially started the confrontation, threatening Bishop with the gun.
Apparently the two men had a history because of a disagreement because of a female love interest. When Walbert started “brake checking” Bishop’s truck from his vehicle at Red Lake, the two then got out of their vehicles and the fight ensued.
At his sentencing Thursday, a snippet of the confrontation that had been filmed was shown to the courtroom. In the March 2018 altercation, Bishop can be seen engaging Walbert in a short scuffle, followed by hitting Walbert with the weapon.
“This is not something that is a minor offense,” Jack Hatfield, Park County prosecuting attorney said. “The defendant caused danger of death or bodily injury.”
This video was shared actively on social media following the event. Judge Bill Simpson found this disturbing.
“I’ve never seen something (social media) so destructive in all my life,” he said.
Bishop will be credited for 47 days he has already served in prison but was immediately remanded to the Park County Detention Center after Simpson made his decision.
“I can only hope the two of you will be able to think about the events in a light to make sure you never do it again,” Simpson said.
Walbert faced no criminal charges from the incident.
After he is released, he will be ordered to serve six months supervised probation. Bishop has already been on supervised probation since released from jail in May 2018.
Last March, Bishop pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge for reckless endangering with a firearm in a cold plea. In his plea negotiated with the state, felony charges for assault with a deadly weapon were reduced to a misdemeanor for reckless endangerment, while a felony charge for property damage over $1,000 was thrown out.
“He received the benefit of the deal,” Hatfield said. “His crime clearly warrants one year in jail.”
A cold plea leaves it up to the judge to decide what the defendant’s sentence will be. Hatfield pushed for one year jail time while Travis Smith, Bishop’s public defender, advocated for only supervised probation.
“Probation is punishment,” Smith said. “There is a deterrent effect for this. Today is that day of reckoning.”
Hatfield criticized Bishop during the hearing for claiming self-defense during his guilty plea. He demanded that Bishop make a new statement, but after some back-and-forth argument to this fact, both Hatfield and Bishop verbally came to an agreement that there was no self-defense claim at hand.
“I didn’t realize what I did was wrong until it was done,” Bishop said.
At the heart of this debate was what Bishop could have done once gaining possession of the weapon.
“Just run, drive, talk to law enforcement,” Simpson said.
Hatfield mentioned that Bishop has committed a few minor crimes during that time including failure to pay a speeding ticket, underage drinking and failing to buy car insurance.
Smith mentioned that Walbert’s recollection of the incident changed multiple times during the investigative process. It was unclear whether or not the firearm was loaded.
In a letter written by Walbert read before the courtroom, he mentioned the long-term memory loss and trauma he and his family has experienced because of the event.