A Cody man who was accused of murdering a woman in Cheyenne and then dumping her body south of Cody is facing felony charges in Park County after his charges in Cheyenne, including first-degree murder, were dismissed.
The case charging Joseph Underwood, 47, with the murder of Cheyenne resident Angela Elizondo in November 2019, was dismissed with prejudice June 23, and he was ordered released from custody. Cases dismissed with prejudice cannot be tried again.
His release was averted by an emergency detention order by mental health staff at the Laramie County jail.
An arrest warrant for disposal of a dead human body was issued for Underwood by county attorney Bryan Skoric on July 5. As of July 13, Underwood was still in the custody of the Laramie County Sheriff’s Office, being held on the Park County warrant. He will at some point be transported back to the Park County Detention Center.
Underwood had been at the Wyoming State Hospital in Evanston while the Cheyenne murder case was proceeding.
The charges in Park County include concealing a felony (disposing a dead body), possession of a firearm by a violent felon, interference with a peace officer, and fleeing or attempting to elude police officers. He faces up to 14 years and six months in prison on the four charges.
They are the same charges initially filed by Skoric in 2019 when Underwood was apprehended after the discovery of the body.
“I chose to refile these charges,” Skoric said. “This is Park County, and these are our charges, and we’re proceeding forward with our charges.”
According to court records from the murder case, the Wyoming State Hospital determined Underwood unfit to stand trial. On June 23, Laramie County District Attorney Leigh Ann Manlove wrote in the state’s motion to dismiss, “Mr. Underwood has not been restored to competency, and there is no substantial probability that he could be restored to competency in the foreseeable future.”
She cited a forensic evaluation of Underwood made by the state hospital from April 15. The court received that report April 19.
Along with the murder charges, Underwoodwas also initially facing charges in Cheyenne for first-degree sexual assault, stalking and two counts of applying pressure on the throat or neck.
In mid-September 2021, Laramie County District Court Judge Peter Froelicher determined Underwood still unfit to proceed. It was the same determination Froelicher made about him in December 2020.
Starting in February 2021, Underwood was at the State Hospital in Evanston.
Prior to Froelicher’s first ruling, Underwood had experienced a head injury while in custody. He also claimed to have a mental health disability during his initial hearing.
He had suffered a serious head injury from a motorcycle accident in the early 1990s and in 2014 attempted to commit suicide by shooting himself in the head.
He had served time in prison on 2014 charges that included threatening with a deadly weapon.
His arrest on murder charges began with a chase.
As reported by Park County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Rob Cooke in an affidavit in 2019, Underwood fled from deputies after being spotted driving near the scene where Elizondo’s body was found by a hunter in early November. After the chase ended two hours later, Underwood threatened to shoot himself in the head.
Deputies first tried to talk Underwood down from shooting himself, with one able to knock the gun from his hand. Another deputy used a taser on Underwood to keep him from his gun, at which point Underwood said, according to the affidavit, “Alright, alright, I quit, I quit.” After being first detained and charged in Cody, Underwood was then taken to Laramie County to face charges including first-degree murder.
Underwood had been living in Cheyenne and had only recently gotten out of prison after he was sentenced in 2015 to four to six years incarceration, with 14 months credit for time served.
The new warrant lists his address as being in Cody.
(Hannah Black with the Cheyenne Tribune Eagle contributed to this story)