Wamsutter man sentenced to 74-100 years

A 49-year-old Wamsutter resident will be spending the rest of his life in prison following a sentencing hearing where he plead guilty to 58 criminal charges.

Russell Jay Byrne was sentenced Monday to a prison sentence of 74-100 years by Third Judicial District Court Judge Suzannah Robinson for charges including the possession, manufacture and distribution of child pornography, as well as the sexual abuse of three children. According to the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office, a joint investigation involving the Wyoming Department of Criminal Investigation’s Internet Crimes Against Children task force started nearly two years ago after receiving tips about Byrne’s activity. Investigators and a team consisting of members from the Green River Police Department, Wyoming Department of Family Services, DCI’s southwest enforcement team and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigation team conducted an operation in November that led to Byrne being detained and serving multiple search warrants to secure various electronic devices and forensic evidence that also led to shutting down Byrne’s production and distribution operation.

Sweetwater County Attorney Dan Erramouspe said the goal of this case was to ensure Byrne never saw the outside of a prison wall again and the plea agreement offered to Byrne was long enough to accomplish that.

“The fact that we accomplished that goal without having to do a trial and putting our victims through that difficult process is a good thing,” Erramouspe said.

Erramouspe said trials are tough on everyone involved and a trial against Byrne would have resulted in the victims having to face him in court while answering questions in front of strangers. He also said with a trial, three things can happen, which can be the person is found guilty, they are found not guilty or it can end in a mistrial, with only one outcome being good for the victim and the State.

“Accepted plea agreements avoid all the negative aspects that a trial offers. In this particular case, we were able to avoid those negative outcomes and achieve the important goal of the defendant spending the rest of his life in prison,” he said.

Erramouspie said the investigation and prosecution of a case like Byrne’s can have an impact on everyone involved as they’re tasked with reviewing the evidence produced. Erramouspie is thankful for the work everyone involved put into the case, includingDCI, the sheriff’s office, GRPD, DFS, the YWCA and his chief deputy, Teresa Thybo.

“My first thoughts are for the victims of Byrne. No one should have to suffer what they went through, and no amount of years in prison will ever adequately describe the horror of these crimes,” he said.


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