Campbell County Attorney: Actions In Wright Shooting Were Justified

Press Release - No criminal charges will be filed against the juvenile who shot and killed Sam Fears on February 19, 2014. After review of the investigation it appears that the juvenile’s actions were as a result of self-defense or defense of others and were justified.

On February 19, 2014, the Campbell County Sheriff’s Department responded to Nelson Court, South of Wright, Wyoming, to a report of shot being fired. Upon arrival, deputies found Sammy Fears, age 48, lying in the driveway to the residence. Life saving steps were taken, however, Fears subsequently died en-route to the hospital as a result of a gunshot wound to the chest.

Investigators learned that Cathy Fears, Sam Fears’ wife, had recently left him as a result of allegations of ongoing domestic violence and abuse. Cathy reported that her husband had been abusing her for four or five years and that she and Sam had been married for twenty-four years. Cathy reported that on numerous occasions she had reported incidents to the Casper Police Department but felt that those calls did not help. Cathy reported that Sam had threatened to kill her on a number of occasions. In an attempt to get away from Sam, Cathy moved from Casper to Wright on February 14, 2014, and was staying with an adult male and a juvenile male.

On the evening of February 19, 2014, Cathy and the juvenile were at the residence. Cathy heard a knock at the back door of the trailer and ran to the back room where the juvenile was at, concerned that her husband Sam Fears may have come to Wright. Sam could not gain entry from the back door as it was locked, and subsequently found the front door unlocked and gained entry into the residence. Cathy came out of the back room and confronted Sam in the living room area. Sam grabbed Cathy by the shirt collar area, picking her up using both arms, picking her up off the ground, and eventually began dragging her from the residence. The juvenile described Sam as “violently” grabbing Cathy and attempting to carry her out of the residence. Cathy stated that she was fighting Sam putting her in the car. Cathy was taken to Sam’s vehicle and placed in the front passenger seat. Cathy stated it took everything Sam had to shove her into the front passenger seat. He kept punching her in the chest.

After placing Cathy in the vehicle, Sam returned to the residence to retrieve other items, thought to be Cathy’s purse and dog. The juvenile described fearing that Sam would “hurt me or something.” The juvenile stated he retrieved the .22 caliber handgun, which had been on the counter, when Sam carried Cathy out the door, and followed them out. The juvenile watched the events from the front deck. The juvenile further explained that he held the firearm behind his back in his left hand and held the door with his right hand as he went to the deck. The juvenile said he went back inside as Sam ran toward the front door. The juvenile positioned himself behind the door near the entry to the extra dining room so he could view Sam and still have a “good view of cover.” As Sam entered the home for the second time, the juvenile raised the pistol and pointed at Sam. Sam said, “Hey, easy buddy,” and ran back out. The juvenile said he stepped out and shot.

The juvenile said he thought Sam may have a gun in the car because people had seen him with guns in the past. He added that he was told that Sam carried firearms “on his leg” or “in his pocket.” Cathy had previously advised those at the residence that Sam regularly “packs a gun,” with sometimes as many as three with him.

The juvenile said he believed he fired the first shot when Sam was almost to the end of the house. The juvenile described Sam coughing “like I had hit him in the chest.” As Sam appeared again from around the house, the juvenile thought he fired a couple more rounds. The juvenile thought one of the rounds struck Sam in his lower body because Sam then fell to the ground. The juvenile stated he waited near the front door after firing the initial shots, fearing that Sam may come back with a firearm or something.

Cathy said she then saw Sam run around the house and Cathy saw him “get in his back pocket,” a place she knew he regularly carried a gun. Cathy said she got out of the car to run to the juvenile and she saw Sam running toward her. Cathy said she saw Sam coming toward her and feared for her life so she ran back into the house.
When Cathy looked back outside, she saw Sam lying by the car.

When asked why the juvenile felt the need to fire at Sam when he was moving and facing away from him, The juvenile was insistent and stated, “because he was going to hurt her no matter what.” The juvenile said his main concern was Cathy being harmed. Cathy had previously shared with him that she had an aneurysm and if she was struck in the head again, she could die. Again the juvenile stated he did not want Cathy “to lose her life.”

Upon securing the scene, deputies found a .44 special handgun, fully loaded with five rounds, under the back deck of the home, with aspirated blood by it, believed to have been discarded by Fears after first being shot. Inside Fears’ car, deputies found a loaded 9 mm semi-automatic handgun under the driver’s seat, a loaded Ruger 77 25-06 rifle with scope from the trunk, a loaded Remington 1100 12 gauge shotgun from the trunk area, and one loaded high standard .22 caliber semi-automatic handgun from the trunk area.

Toxicology reports indicate that Sam Fears had amphetamine and methamphetamine in his system on February 19, 2014.

The Fears’ Casper home was found to have had all the doors in the house screwed shut, this occurring after Cathy Fears left the residence on February 14, 2014. A witness who had contact with Sam the night prior to the incident in Wright stated that Sam was “acting very strange” and had a gun in every room.

Following the incident, the Sheriff’s Department learned that Sam Fears had been previously convicted of felony fraud and had a firearms disqualification. Domestic violence charges were pending in St. George, UT. Charges were pending in Natrona County and a Summons had been issued for two criminal counts, Battery (FVPA) and Unlawful Contact stemming from an incident on June 22, 2013 with Sam and Cathy Fears. The Summons was issued on February 18, 2014.

Wyoming Statute Section 6-2-602, Use of Force in Self Defense, provides:

(a) A person is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or serious bodily injury to himself or another when using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or serious bodily injury to another if:
(i) The intruder against whom the defensive force was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, another’s home or habitation or, if that intruder had removed or was attempting to remove another against his will from him home or habitation; and
(ii) The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring.

(c) A person who unlawfully and by force enters or attempts to enter another’s home or habitation is presumed to be doing so with the intent to commit an unlawful act involving force or violence.

As a result of the investigation, it appears the juvenile was acting in defense of himself or in defense of others and that his actions in shooting Sam Fears on February 19, 2014, were justified.
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Topics : Law_Crime
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