Green River Star -

 
 

By Stephanie Thompson
People Editor 

Woman fought for change in mutilation law

 

March 15, 2017



A Green River woman said she’s finally able to start the grieving process after her brother was murdered and dismembered.

Jennifer Stone was willing to open up about her brother Phillip Brewer’s murder and the mutilation of his body. Brewer, 33, of Green River and his lifelong friend Jody Fortuna, 38, were allegedly murdered by Michael Montano, 37, of Gillette, in September of 2016, in Gillette.

According to a Gillette News and Record article dated Oct. 11, 2016, “Man accused of killing two, cutting up their bodies,” Montano was charged with two counts of second-degree murder and two counts of mutilation of dead human bodies, while his girlfriend, Kylee Collins, 22, was charged with accessory after the fact and two counts of conspiracy to mutilate a dead human body. No plea bargains have been made and their trials have been rescheduled.

The article states Montano allegedly shot Brewer in the head and also shot Fortuna. He allegedly placed their bodies in a bathtub for two days before he used a hand saw to cut them up. He allegedly placed the cut up bodies in totes and garbage bags and took them to a storage unit. Later, their bodies were removed from a storage unit and placed in the bed of his truck. That’s when someone noticed them and the smell and notified the police.

After Montano and Collins were charged with the felonies, Stone was upset with how minimal the proposed prison time they would get on the mutilation charges were, which was not more than three years in prison. Stone couldn’t believe it. She chose to pursue changing Wyoming State Statute 6-4-502 Mutilation of dead human bodies; concealing a felony; penalties and exceptions.

“I can’t even express the hate and anger I had,” Stone said. “Going through something like this, after my brother’s murder was tough, but I had to do something. I decided to turn it into something positive.”

She and her legislative supporters set to work to change the statute.

During her legislative experience, Stone had nothing negative to say. She said most were supportive of her and her efforts. In fact, local legislators, including Sen. John Hastert and Representatives Stan Blake and John Freeman along with Campbell County legislators, including Senators Michael Von Flatern, Jeff Wasserburger and Ogden Driskill and Representatives Eric Barlow, Bill Pownall, Laramie County Rep. Jim Blackburn and Albany County Rep. Charles Pelkey sponsored the bill.

The group came up with their own statute language, but it was changed during the legislative process. Stone was OK with the changes and was happy that it passed both the House and the Senate. Stone was there when Governor Matt Mead signed the bill. The statute will now read a person who dissects or mutilates a dead human body could serve a maximum of five years in prison and could pay a maximum fine of $10,000. Another portion of the statute specifically states a person who mutilates a dead human body or disposes of a dead human body in a hidden, undisclosed or transient location in order to conceal a felony offense could serve a maximum of 10 years in prison and could pay a maximum fine of $10,000.

Stone knows the change in the statute won’t impact her brother’s case, but she said it will impact those who decide to commit the crime of mutilation in the future.

“I hope it never happens in the state of Wyoming again,” Stone said.

Stone reflected on how much the mutilation to her brother’s body impacted her family.

“We were forced into cremation obviously,” Stone said. “They stripped us of all of that. In the beginning, it was hard, so hard to see it in the paper.”

She doesn’t want any other person to go through what she and her family have had to go through.

Stone was in the Gillette area shortly after her brother went missing. She was putting up flyers with her brother’s picture on it and the whole time he was already dead.

Stone said the reason she pursued the statute change wasn’t just for her brother, but for her. She was becoming consumed with anger and hatred and had to channel it somewhere. Stone said she didn’t want it to consume her and make her miserable for the rest of her life.

Although Stone did choke up when she was sharing her story with the legislators, she really didn’t feel like she had time to grieve. Since the bill has passed, that feeling has changed.

“I really didn’t grieve for my brother the whole time,” Stone said. “I feel like I can finally breathe and grieve for my brother.”

 

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