District court roundup: Man pleads guilty to voyeurism after photographing woman in fitting room

Hannah Black, Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, Cheyenne
·5 min read

Mar. 13—CHEYENNE — A man accused of surreptitiously photographing a woman in a Target fitting room pleaded guilty Thursday morning in Laramie County District Court.

Jonathan Benitez-Bernal was charged with one count of voyeurism, a felony. A plea agreement recommends he receive a sentence of two years of supervised probation, with a suspended sentence of one to two years.

Laramie County District Judge Peter Froelicher set Benitez-Bernal's sentencing for June 3.

At 4:39 p.m. Feb. 12, 2020, a Cheyenne Police officer responded to Target, 1708 Dell Range Blvd., for a call about a suspicious circumstance. A loss prevention manager at the store said she'd witnessed Benitez-Bernal enter a fitting room adjacent to where a woman was changing clothes. The manager then saw him put a cellphone through the gap between the floor and the bottom of the stall door.

The officer quickly located Benitez-Bernal with store surveillance footage, and his cellphone matched the manager's description. While speaking with CPD detectives, he admitted to taking "a photo."

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Also heard Thursday in district court:

Maria Pasco Price pleaded no contest to felony strangulation of a household member, misdemeanor domestic battery (first offense) and misdemeanor interference with a peace officer (resisting) as part of a plea agreement. She previously pleaded not guilty to the charges.

For the strangulation charge, the agreement recommends Price receive a sentence of three years of supervised probation, with a suspended sentence of three to five years of incarceration. She would receive credit for time served for the two misdemeanor counts.

Froelicher set Price's sentencing for June 3.

At 9:39 p.m. Nov. 1, a Cheyenne Police officer responded to a physical domestic disturbance. Price and her husband had been in an argument, during which she grabbed a vacuum and hit him several times, according to court documents. She repeatedly hit him with a belt, causing "severe injury" and ripping his shirt. At one point, she hit him between the eyes with the belt's buckle, causing a laceration.

When the man tried to get away, Price wrapped the belt around his neck and "squeezed tight," preventing him from breathing and causing him to begin losing vision, according to court documents. The man told officers Price hit him at least 150 times with the belt and the vacuum, and that he couldn't defend himself because he was weak from a recent surgery and didn't want to hit his wife. He said he was eventually able to get away "because he knew it was a life-or-death situation."

The officer observed injuries on the man that were consistent with his story. Price was "very uncooperative" and had to be told several times to stop walking toward her husband and listen to officers, according to court documents. At one point, Price tried to run inside while screaming and was then put in handcuffs and placed in the back of a police vehicle.

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Tyler Martin Kulas was sentenced by Froelicher to two years of probation as part of a stipulated plea agreement. Kulas previously pleaded guilty to felony possession of marijuana.

Because of his minimal criminal history, Froelicher determined Kulas was eligible to have his guilty plea deferred if he follows his probation conditions.

Kulas was originally charged with five felonies: possession of marijuana, possession of THC (wax), possession of THC (shatter), possession with intent to deliver marijuana and possession with intent to deliver THC.

At about 11:15 a.m. May 29, a Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper pulled over a vehicle driven by Kulas for speeding on Interstate 80. The trooper "smelled the strong odor of raw marijuana" coming from the passenger side of the vehicle.

A second trooper arrived and helped search the vehicle. The troopers found about 3,820 grams of raw marijuana in the form of pre-rolled joints, 11.33 pounds of THC wax, 15.21 pounds of THC edibles, 132 grams of THC shatter, 340 grams of raw marijuana, 126 grams of liquid THC and approximately 10,000 empty foil packages labeled for THC.

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Fredrick James Schiele Jr. was sentenced by Froelicher to two to three years of incarceration, along with an order to pay $1,628 in restitution, as part of a plea agreement.

Schiele pleaded guilty to felony burglary. An additional charge of misdemeanor theft, as well as a charge of felony forgery (uttering) in a different case, was dismissed at sentencing as part of the agreement.

At 8:58 p.m. May 5, a Cheyenne Police officer responded to a report of burglary from a vehicle. A man said someone had stolen his checkbook, GPS, Social Security card and other items totaling about $300. Schiele was later identified through surveillance footage of the incident.

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Heard Monday in district court:

Brittany C. Sullivan pleaded guilty to felony forgery (uttering) as part of a plea agreement. She previously pleaded not guilty to 13 counts of felony forgery (uttering) and one count of felony conspiracy to commit forgery.

The agreement recommends the remaining counts be dismissed at sentencing, along with two additional felony forgery charges in a different case. It also recommends a sentence of two years of supervised probation, with a suspended sentence of 12 to 18 months of incarceration, with the conditions that Sullivan pay restitution and apply to drug court.

Laramie County District Judge Thomas Campbell set her sentencing for June 1.

The probable cause affidavit describing Sullivan's alleged crimes in detail was put in a separate, confidential file, according to court documents.

Hannah Black is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle's criminal justice reporter. She can be reached at hblack@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3128. Follow her on Twitter at @hannahcblack.