Casper Man Convicted of Aggravated Assault in Hospital Shooting Trial
It took 12 Natrona County jurors just over an hour to convict Mitchell D. Taylor on two counts of aggravated assault in the March 4 shooting at Wyoming Medical Center.
A sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled. Taylor could face up to 10 years behind bars on each count.
No one was injured in the shooting.
The three-day jury trial concluded Wednesday afternoon. Over the course of the trial, jurors heard testimony from a doctor who recalled taking off running after he saw Taylor with his weapon.
Dr. Paul Bettinger was on duty at Wyoming Medical Center the morning of the shooting. He recalled seeing Taylor holding the gun and hearing gunshots. In surveillance footage shown to jurors, Bettinger is seen running down a hallway as Taylor sits, points his gun down the same hallway and fires it multiple times.
A housekeeper on shift at Wyoming Medical Center during the shooting told jurors that she saw Taylor standing in the hallway holding his gun. When Amy Deskins saw Taylor, he said, "What are you looking at," according to Deskins's testimony. Taylor then fired the gun as Deskins ran down a hallway.
Taylor's attorney, Joseph Cole, argued that Taylor wasn't trying to threaten or otherwise harm Bettinger or Deskins. Cole had argued to allow jurors to hear testimony about Taylor being under the influence of LSD, or acid, during the shooting. Judge Daniel Forgey rejected that.
For his part, Taylor testified that he drove himself to Wyoming Medical Center because he thought he was going to die and needed help. In surveillance footage, Taylor is seen entering the emergency room public entrance before walking through a hallway and crouching in front of two elevators.
He stands up, pulls a gun from his jacket and levels the weapon.
Taylor moves off-screen before smoke from an apparent gunshot fills the room. He told jurors Wednesday morning that he shot the weapon to see if he was alive.
During closing arguments, Natrona County Assistant District Attorney Kevin Taheri said any reasonable person would be threatened by Taylor during the incident. Bettinger and Deskins "wisely" ran for their lives.
"(Bettinger) has been through quite a traumatic event," Taheri said.
Taylor told jurors that he didn't realize he had the gun on him until right before firing it. He was going to shoot himself in the leg to see if he was still alive, but instead "chickened out."
Taheri rejected that argument and said that it's more than just a big coincidence that Taylor fired his weapon at the exact same times Bettinger and Deskins were in the hallway.
Cole tried to tell jurors that it would be more appropriate for Taylor to be charged with reckless endangerment, but Taheri successfully objected to that.
The public defender argued that the surveillance footage does not show Bettinger dodging bullets and that Bettinger was well into another room before Taylor fired his weapon.
"You're telling me that doctor isn't going to know he's running through a hail of fire," Cole said. "(Taylor) had no intent of hurting anybody.
"(Taylor) did the damn stupidiest thing any 20-year-old has done in this town."
But what Taylor didn't do, Cole said, was commit aggravated assault.
Twelve Natrona County jurors disagreed.