Wyoming abortion clinic fire suspect to go free pending case
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — She posted on social media about competing in a bike race, losing her pet hedgehog and visiting a butterfly garden with her grandmother but gave no sign of the anti-abortion views investigators say drove her to set fire to a Wyoming abortion clinic.
On Tuesday, a judge ruled that Lorna Roxanne Green may be released from jail to carry on life as a college student pending further developments in her case, U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephanie Hambrick ruled.
“I believe the weight of the evidence is strong,” said Hambrick, a substitute judge in the case who's based in Yellowstone National Park and who presided over Green's detention hearing by video link broadcast in U.S. District Court in Cheyenne.
Green, who waived her right to a preliminary hearing, won't need to post bond but would owe $10,000 for violating bond conditions.
Those conditions include living with her parents in Casper while attending college and working part time as a food delivery driver. Her parents must remove firearms from their home.
Appearing by video link from jail, Green made few comments except to say she was a full-time student almost halfway toward her bachelor's degree. She asked if she could have her phone back to work her delivery job; her attorney, Ryan Semerad, said she'd talk to her about that.
“Lorna’s family and I are pleased she’s being released and we look forward to addressing the charge against her in future proceedings," Semerad told The Associated Press after the hearing.
Police in Casper — where the Wellspring Health Access clinic has yet to open since the May 25 fire kept it from opening as planned last summer — arrested Green on March 21. Over the previous nine months, the case had grown cold.
Then, after a $10,000 anonymous donation increased the reward in the case from $5,000 to $15,000 earlier this month, several tipsters came forward, according to investigators.
Some allegedly identified Green and she told U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Agent Matthew Wright the clinic was giving her anxiety and nightmares so she decided to burn it, according to Wright's statement filed in court.
Wright said Green told him about driving from Laramie, where she was living at the time, to break into the clinic with gasoline, which she poured on the floor and lit, according to the statement.
Public records and Green's Instagram account show no sign of opposition to abortion that may have motivated the crime.
Green was a high school and community college honors student interested in science and math. On Instagram, she posted about a March 14, 2022, party celebrating the number pi — 3.14 — where pies and other round treats were served.
Four days before the fire, Green posted photos of butterflies she said she'd taken at an Ames, Iowa, garden she'd visited with her grandmother.
Then, 10 days after the fire, Green posted about competing in a 60-mile (100-kilometer) gravel-road bike race outside Sheridan, Wyoming. She finished 185th out of 247 participants, according to the race results.
In September, she posted about losing her pet hedgehog, Hedgie, in her backyard. And in December, she posted a Casper College commercial in which she was an actor. Green has attended Casper College part time for several years and the ad hasn’t been released, according to Christopher Lorenzen, a spokesperson for the community college.
In 2021, Green posted a photo of herself and a sister sitting outside on a car hood, each holding a rifle and a pistol in a pose typical of Wyoming's many families who like to target shoot and hunt.
The clinic was scheduled to open as the only facility of its kind in the state, offering women’s health care, family planning and gender-affirming health care in addition to abortion services.
The clinic underwent repairs from the fire and was finally set to open next month, but those plans were thrown into doubt after Gov. Mark Gordon allowed a broad new abortion ban to take effect on Sunday without his signature. On Wednesday, Teton County District Court Judge Melissa Owens halted enforcement of the ban after a hearing in which abortion-rights supporters said it harms pregnant women and their doctors, and violates the state constitution.
Owens suspended the ban for at least two weeks. Meanwhile, the state’s first-in-the-nation ban on abortion pills remains set to take effect in July but also faces a court challenge.