RIVERTON — The 19-year-old St. Stephen’s resident accused of murdering two people in a Riverton bedroom in January 2019 is being held without bond.
Brandon Donald Monroe appeared Friday afternoon in Riverton Circuit Court. He was charged with two counts felony murder, or alternately, two counts of first-degree murder.
Both charging categories are under the first-degree murder section of Wyoming statute, and both ordinarily would be punishable by the death penalty, life in prison without parole, or life in prison.
But because Monroe was a minor (16 years old) at the time of the killings, he is not subject in Wyoming to the death penalty or life without parole.
Rudy Perez and Jocelyn Watt, who both were 30, were found deceased from small-caliber gunshots to the head, in the bedroom of Watt’s apartment on the 1100 block of North Federal Boulevard in Riverton on Jan. 4, 2019.
“It appears from the eyewitness present that he murdered both of them in the bedroom,” began Fremont County Attorney Patrick LeBrun during Monroe’s initial appearance on Friday.
The victims, LeBrun continued, “were found with two bullets in each of their heads, both fired from the same weapon.”
Monroe “has admitted, from my understanding, to shooting Mr. Perez,” said the prosecutor, adding that Monroe had not admitted to shooting Watt, but Watt was shot with the same weapon.
LeBrun told Riverton Circuit Court Judge Wesley Roberts that these arguments should, in his view, justify holding Monroe without bond.
In capital cases only, a defendant can be held without the possibility of bond, if there is “evident” proof against him or, Roberts said, “the presumption is great.”
Roberts then encouraged Monroe to obtain defense counsel.
Two of Monroe’s co-defendants also are charged with felony murder for their alleged involvement are being held on $1 million cash-only bonds: Patrick James SunRhodes, who is now 17 but was 14 during the incident, and Bryce Mallikee Teran, 24, of Arapahoe, both appeared in Roberts’s court one week before Monroe, on Dec. 10.
A fourth co-defendant, now-18-year-old Korbin Headley, who was 15 during the incident, is charged with aggravated burglary for his alleged involvement in the break-in and subsequent felonies, is held on a $100,000 cash-only bond.
According to the evidentiary affidavit filed Dec. 10 in Riverton Circuit Court, Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation special agent Juliet Fish interviewed SunRhodes on Dec. 9.
SunRhodes recounted that on the night of Jan. 3, 2019, he was at his home in Fremont County when Headley contacted him asking if he’d like to get alcohol, after which SunRhodes met with Headley and Teran at a home on the Wind River Indian Reservation.
Monroe also joined the three, approached their vehicle, told Headley to get in the back, then seated himself in the front passenger seat, reports state. The four drank together in the vehicle.
Monroe, SunRhodes recalled, went into the home, then came back to the vehicle with methamphetamine and a firearm with a wooden stock. Monroe “used the methamphetamine,” court documents state.
Monroe was wearing gloves and saying he needed to “go take care of business.”
“On the way there,” SunRhodes recalled, “Monroe described that he had bleached the bullets so he wouldn’t leave fingerprints,” and loaded them into the gun.
SunRhodes said he asked Headley, who knew the other suspects well, if he could go home.
Headley asked Monroe, who, Headley reported back to SunRhodes, said no.
Teran, court documents state, drove the four to Riverton, and to an alley behind Watt’s apartment.
When Monroe saw that Headley was “too drunk” to enter the home with him, he said to SunRhodes “come wit’ me (expletive),” the latter recalled.
And SunRhodes did follow Monroe in the apartment, after Monroe broke through the back door with his shoulder, reportedly.
According to his interview with Fish, SunRhodes stood in the main area of the apartment while Monroe went into the bedroom.
A “few gunshots” sounded from there.
SunRhodes went into the bedroom and saw a woman lying facedown on the floor next to the bed.
Monroe, SunRhodes remembered, was straddling another man who was lying down in the bedroom closet.
The male, later identified as Perez, held his right hand up as if to struggle against Monroe. “get the (expletive) off me,” Monroe is reported to have said to Perez, before shooting him again in the head.
Monroe picked a shotgun from the closet floor and left with it, court documents allege.
In Wyoming, stealing firearms of any value also is a felony.
SunRhodes ran from the apartment and got back into the truck. Monroe soon ran out as well, and getting into the truck, is reported to have told Teran “go, man, go.”
The four suspects –– three of them high-school aged boys –– sped away.