Initial appearance hearing for Riverton man charged with manslaughter held today, May 10

    All suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

    (Riverton, WY) – The initial appearance hearing for 55-year-old Riverton man Vurnon Doney was held today, May 10, and was overseen by the Honorable Judge Jefferson Coombs.

    A preliminary hearing was set for May 20.


    Doney faces a manslaughter charge in connection to an April 26 house fire that occurred in Riverton.

    He was subsequently taken into custody on May 9 after a warrant was issued for his arrest following the ensuing investigation.

    (It should be noted, the original press release sent to the media by RPD said the warrant was “issued for involuntary manslaughter,” but the documents filed state the charge is “manslaughter.”)

    Court documents filed on May 9 say that the Riverton Police Department (RPD) received a call from Doney on April 26 around 2:00 AM, where he stated his residence was fully engulfed in flames, and that his girlfriend, Eve Newton, was trapped in her bedroom.


    Upon arriving on scene, Riverton Volunteer firefighters located the body of Newton in the bedroom where Doney said she was located.

    RPD spoke with Doney at the hospital while he was being treated for minor burns and smoke inhalation, Court documents continue, where he stated that he and Newton had been arguing just prior to the fire, and that decided he was “going to spend the night in his van.”

    Doney went on to state that he later wanted to ride his motorized bike to work in the morning, so he went back inside the residence “in hopes of mixing gas with oil” for the bike.


    When Doney did as much, he advised that he and Newton began arguing again, and that he then “spilled” gas in the living room, his and Newton’s bedrooms, and in the bathroom.

    Doney then told investigators that about 30-45 minutes after this occurred he lit a cigarette “to calm himself,” at which point his clothing caught fire and the areas previously covered in gas began to ignite as well.

    Doney said he was just outside of Newton’s bedroom door when this occurred, and that he attempted to put the fire out with water from the bathroom.


    Doney stated he was unable to stop the flames from spreading, and went on to tell investigators that Newton was unable to jump over the fire in front of the bedroom door, and could not escape out of the window either.

    During the investigation, Court documents state Fire Investigators determined that the area of origin for the fire appeared to be inside Newton’s bedroom, near the foot of the bed, and that there also appeared to be the remnants of a gas can between the doorway and the foot of the bed.

    During Newton’s April 29 autopsy, soot was located in her airways, which indicated that she was indeed breathing during the fire, Court documents conclude.

    At today’s initial appearance hearing, Doney stated he has “mental illnesses” that “make things difficult and challenging,” especially when he doesn’t have his medications, but that he was mentally competent enough to proceed with the hearing.

    Doney went on to say that he “fully intends to take responsibility” for the charge.

    The State, represented by Patrick LeBrun, brought up past charges against Doney, which included methamphetamine possession, a DWUI, interference with a peace officer, and aggravated assault and battery.

    Doney’s preliminary hearing was then set for May 20.

    A manslaughter felony charge holds a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment.

    County 10 will provide updates on the case as they become available, which can be viewed here.


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