Heto Thayer's booking photo into the Fremont County Detention Center.

(Lander, Wyo.) – A 32-year-old Fort Washakie man has been sentenced to 5 to 7 years in prison for the February stabbing of a woman in Riverton.

The sentence came pursuant to a plea agreement. In July, Heto Thayer pleaded no contest to one charge of aggravated assault and battery. For his plea, a second charge of aggravated assault and battery was dismissed.

Thayer is also required to pay $32,114.46 in restitution.

The charges stem from a February event where Thayer allegedly stabbed Kimberly Potter in the back in a Riverton motel.

According to her family’s testimony at the sentencing on Thursday morning, Potter spent time in the hospital with a collapsed lung and a ruptured spleen. Deputy County Attorney Tim Hancock said she also contracted pneumonia likely due to weakness from her injuries.

“If that knife went any further it would have punctured her heart,” Potter’s mother Irene Dewey said. “She could have died. … He knew what he was doing when he stabbed her.”

Potter’s sister Katera Jenkins said she had been present at the hotel the night of the stabbing and left when she felt Thayer was getting threatening and saying “nasty things.” She said she felt guilty for not taking her sister with her. She said she was afraid of what could happen when Thayer gets out. Jenkins said at one point Thayer had another inmate from the jail call Potter and asked her to drop the charges in exchange for money.

Hancock reiterated the senselessness of the crime. “It appears to have been about a pair of sunglasses,” he said. Hancock said through interviews with Potter it is believed Thayer stabbed her “on principle” because he believe she had stolen a pair of sunglasses from him.

He also noted that Thayer has previously spent 10 years in prison for federal conviction in which he shot someone.

The reason the sentence he was asking for was less than the 8-10 years provided by statute was because Thayer took responsibility for the crime.

Thayer’s attorney Dan Caldwell said most of Thayer’s criminal history involves some form of drug or alcohol abuse. He asked Ninth District Court Judge Norman E. Young to consider a 4-6 year sentence with a recommendation to go into an in-patient rehabilitation center.

Young made no such recommendation and upheld the maximum sentence allowed under the plea agreement.

Background:

According to the affidavit, when officers arrived, Potter was found at the front desk with blood soaking through her shirt and jacket. She reported she was having trouble breathing from the knife wound, and she identified Thayer as her assailant. Officers applied pressure to the wound with a towel to slow the bleeding. When the Fremont County EMS ambulance arrived and transported Potter to Riverton Memorial Hospital, officers tracked the suspect, identified at Hedoduyehpau Thayer, AKA Heto Herman Thayer, across the highway to the Walmart store through tracks he left in the fresh fallen snow.

Thayer was located inside the store on the east side of the check out registers, where he was arrested. Officers who followed Thayer’s tracks in the snow, reported that they discovered the knife that they believed he used in the attack behind a set of tires of a semi-truck and trailer parked in the Walmart lot.