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Cheyenne Man Pleads Guilty To Seven Felonies; Faces Long Prison Sentence

Courtesy Natrona County Sheriff's Office
Courtesy Natrona County Sheriff’s Office

A Cheyenne man faces between 35 and 50 years in prison for crimes related to a high-speed chase that could have killed two Highway Patrol troopers in August.

Jimmie Ray Files pleaded guilty to seven felony counts during a change-of-plea hearing before Natrona County District Court Judge Catherine Wilking on Wednesday.

Because Files has a long criminal history of felonies and because two of those counts — aggravated assault and battery, punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment — are violent felonies, the state sought to designate him as a habitual criminal, Natrona County District Attorney Mike Blonigen said.

The habitual criminal designation led to the plea deal of two 35- to 50-year sentences to run concurrently, Blonigen said. If the case had gone to trial and Files had been convicted, Files could have faced life imprisonment, he said.

Files also pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted bodily injury against a peace officer, one count of grand larceny, one count of property destruction, and one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. The sentences for those crimes would run concurrently with the proposed sentences.

Wilking said she is not bound by the plea agreement. If she believes the punishments are too lenient in the pre-sentence report, the case could go to trial, she said.

A sentencing date will be set later. Files remains in custody.

Files, who was 38 when arrested, originally was charged with 11 felony counts, and pleaded not guilty to them during his arraignment.

The case began Aug. 21 when a man reported his pickup was stolen from the Casper Country Club, according to court documents.

Later that day, two Highway Patrol troopers saw the pickup driving north on Interstate 25 between Casper and Glenrock and attempted to stop it. The truck accelerated to more than 100 mph. A trooper deployed Stop Sticks which deflated two tires, but the pickup didn’t stop and crossed the median into oncoming traffic.

Another trooper executed a pit maneuver, hitting the pickup to try to stop it. The pickup re-entered the median. It appeared to be stuck, then backed up and stopped.

The troopers drew their guns. Files raised his hands as if about to surrender. He then accelerated toward the troopers who got out of the way.

They fired five shots, hitting Files and the pickup. Files continued accelerating, crashed into a patrol vehicle and broke its rear axle.

He drove the pickup into the prairie, got stuck, and Natrona County Sheriff’s deputies captured him near Blackmore and Lathrop roads east of Casper. They also found a bag found of methamphetamine, packaging material and a scale.

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