(Riverton, Wyo.) – Initial court appearances can be routine where a defendant is advised of their rights, given the opportunity to be represented by a lawyer, have the charges explained, determine if there is a basis for the charges, a bond is set and a preliminary hearing scheduled. But Thursday’s initial appearance for a 23-year-old man charged with two counts of kidnapping where it is alleged he abducted a 9-year-old child from her bed was anything but routine.
Ninth Circuit Court Judge Wesley A. Roberts began the hearing for David Waine Brock and paused a few minutes later when the defendant told the court that he was illiterate, that he could not read or write and that he did not understand the documents that had been given to him. Roberts then read aloud the two counts of kidnapping filed against Brock. As information in an affidavit supporting the charges was about to be presented, the judge stopped the proceedings and called Fremont County and Prosecuting Attorney Michael Bennett to the bench for an off the record discussion. Roberts then said in open court that he was concerned the affidavit had not been redacted and it contained information about the victim and her family that could identify them.
The judge then took the unusual step of recruiting a lawyer from the gallery, Public Defender Valerie Schoneberger, and asking her to visit with Brock, in private, and make sure he understands the information and the charges since he could not read them. She agreed. In the interim, Roberts continued with a long string of initial appearances.
When Schoneberger returned to the court, Roberts took up the case again and received assurances from the defendant that he understood the proceedings and charges. Roberts also took the opportunity to inform Brock that the charges against him had been amended by the state to include a fifth line in each charge that the defendant “with intent did remove (the victim) from her home to inflict bodily injury.”
In defending the state’s charges, Bennett said, “this is about the scariest case we can have,” that he was concerned for the safety of the community because “the allegation was that he stole a child out her own bed while sleeping.” Bennett also testified that Brock was found hiding in a storage unit in Lander and told the court that he understood Brock was trying to arrange flight from the county,” to either Montana or Kentucky. Because the charges could potentially land Brock in prison for the rest of his life, Bennett argued that he was a flight risk.
Roberts agreed and continued bond at $250,000 cash and set a preliminary hearing of July 30th at 11 a.m.
See details of the incident here.
Photos by Ernie Over. Click to enlarge.