Natrona County Judge Scolds State Hospital in Delayed Trial
A Casper man charged in a May drive-by shooting had his trial delayed pending a mental health evaluation.
Natrona County District Court Judge Daniel Forgey delayed Matthew Nietert's jury trial until Nietert can undergo a mental health evaluation. Nietert's trial was initially scheduled to begin next week.
During a district court status conference Tuesday, Wyoming State Hospital representative Bret McCoy said Nietert was evaluated Sept. 20 and the results of that evaluation should be available by Oct. 13.
But it turned out that doctors conducted the wrong type of evaluation. Instead of an evaluation that would determine whether Nietert acted out as a result of a mental illness during the alleged shooting, doctors conducted an evaluation to determine whether Nietert was fit to proceed with a jury trial.
Forgey, a typically stoic judge, was visibly frustrated. The district court judge said he "went out of my way" to make sure the type of evaluation being requested was clear.
The judge also alluded to another case the state hospital recently botched. Forgey was forced to delay the trial of a man accused of shooting and killing his mother contingent on a mental health evaluation from the state hospital.
"I'm trying to be judicious," Forgey said. "These are things that shouldn't be happening."
Prosecutors allege that Nietert and four teens fired at least seven shots into a Casper residence. The shooting took place after one of the teens got into a fight with the homeowner's adult son.
Nietert has pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of mental illness to conspiracy to commit aggravated assault, property destruction, receiving stolen property and possession of a deadly weapon with unlawful intent.
Nietert, who remained jailed as of Tuesday, faces up to 35 years behind bars if convicted of all charges.