Roy Clyde, who shot two Native American men, one fatally, in a crime that stoked racial tensions in a Wyoming town pleaded guilty last Thursday to charges that will keep him in prison for the rest of his life.
Clyde, 32, pleaded guilty to charges of first-degree murder and attempted murder. He faces life in prison under a plea agreement that spares him the death penalty. Clyde has a sentencing hearing in coming weeks at which he’s assured of receiving life in prison without parole.
Clyde is a former parks worker for the city of Riverton, a town in central Wyoming on the border of the Wind River Indian Reservation.
Clyde admitted in court he shot and killed 29-year-old Stallone Trosper and wounded 50-year-old James “Sonny” Goggles at a Riverton detox center in July.
The shootings have outraged tribal leaders, who have demanded a federal hate crimes investigation.
Clyde further upset victims’ relatives on Thursday when, under the questioning of his lawyer, he said he was targeting transients regardless of their race — not specifically hunting Native Americans.
Despite Clyde’s denial, victims’ relatives said after the hearing that they strongly believe Clyde targeted the men because they were Native American.
Clyde’s rampage capped years of increasing tensions between the Wind River Indian Reservation — home to both the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes — and the predominantly non-Native population in Riverton and surrounding Fremont County.
In recent years, tribal members achieved a greater say in local government by winning a federal lawsuit that ended at-large voting for county commissioners. Fremont County opposed the lawsuit.
More recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declared Riverton itself remains legally Indian Country. Acting on a request by the tribes to be treated as separate entities under the Clean Air Act, the EPA said Riverton was never formally removed from the Wind River Indian Reservation. The state and local governments are bitterly contesting its findings in court.
Riverton Police Chief Mike Broadhead said this week he believes the community has entered a period of calm after the shootings. His department is reviewing candidates for the newly created position of community relations ombudsman, which he said will handle complaints about the treatment of Native Americans.
City and tribal leaders have announced three community meetings in October and November to discuss racial issues and areas for improving understanding.