Capital punishment in Wyoming

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Capital punishment is legal in the U.S. state of Wyoming.

Current development[edit]

Wyoming Legislature passed a new and current death penalty statute on February 28, 1977,[1] due to eliminating all previous statutes across the country by the 1972 United States Supreme Court Furman v. Georgia decision.

Capital crimes[edit]

First-degree murder is the only capital crime in Wyoming.[2] There are 11 aggravating factors.[3]

Life in prison without parole is an option.[2]

As in any other state, people who are under 18 at the time of commission of the capital crime [4] or mentally retarded[5] are constitutionally precluded from being executed.

Death row and clemency process[edit]

Male death row is located at the Wyoming State Penitentiary in Rawlins (for females in Lusk). Currently 1 man and no women are awaiting execution.[1]

The Governor of Wyoming has a sole right to grant commutation of the death sentence. Since 1977 no commutation was granted.[6]

Method of executions[edit]

Lethal injection is the sole method of execution. Gas chamber, however, is a backup method if injection would ever be found unconstitutional.[7]

Executed individuals[edit]

Only one individual has been executed in the state of Wyoming since 1976:

Executed person Race Date of execution Method Murder victim(s) Under Governor
1 Mark Hopkinson White 22 January 1992 lethal injection Vincent Vehar, Beverly Vehar, John Vehar, and Jeffrey Green Mike Sullivan


Wyoming has executed 22 men between 1884 and 1965. 5 of these execution were prior to Statehood, and 17 since.[8]

Until 1937 hanging was the only used method. Later the gas chamber was introduced. A total of 17 convicted people were hanged and 5 gassed.[8]

Wyoming has never executed a woman or anyone for a crime other than murder,[9] although several were executed for murder in the course of robbery (what is now known as capital or felony murder, in which another serious felony was a germane element of the murder), although they were executed for the murder and not the robbery.

Federal death penalty[edit]

One federal (outside state juridsiction) execution, not listed here, took place on April 26, 1945, when Henry Ruhl was gassed for a murder committed on a Government Reservation.[10]

No one was convicted by federal courts in Wyoming and sentenced to death after 1988 (date of federal death penalty reintroduction).[11]

List of executions until 1965[edit]

Prior to Wyoming becoming a State:

Executed person Date of execution Method Crime
1 John Boyer 21 April 1871 hanging murder
2 William Tousant Kensler 19 November 1874 hanging murder
3 Leroy Donovan 18 January 1884 hanging murder and robbery
4 George Cooke 12 December 1884 hanging murder
5 John Owens 5 March 1886 hanging murder and robbery
6 Benjamin Carter 26 January 1888 hanging murder
7 George Black 26 February 1890 hanging murder

Wyoming became a state July 10, 1890. A total of 18 individuals were executed in the state of Wyoming prior to the 1972 Supreme Court capital punishment ban.

Executed person Date of execution Method Crime
1 Charles Miller 22 April 1892 hanging murder and robbery
2 Frank Howard 7 December 1894 hanging murder
3 James Keffer 24 September 1902 hanging murder and robbery
4 Thomas Horn 20 November 1903 hanging murder
5 Joseph Seng 24 May 1912 hanging murder
6 Warren Jenkins 14 November 1913 hanging murder
7 Willard Flanders 16 June 1916 hanging murder
8 Wilmer Palmer 11 August 1916 hanging murder
9 Oscar White 20 January 1916 hanging murder
10 Yee Geow 11 March 1921 hanging murder
11 George Brownfield 10 March 1930 hanging murder
12 Charles Aragon 14 May 1930 hanging murder
13 Talton Taylor 11 May 1933 hanging murder
14 Perry Carroll 13 August 1937 gas chamber murder
15 Stanley Lantzer 19 April 1940 gas chamber murder
16 Cleveland Brown, Jr. 17 November 1944 gas chamber murder and rape
17 Andrew Pixley 10 December 1965 gas chamber murder

One federal execution took place:

Executed person Date of execution Crime Method Under President
Henry Ruhl April 27, 1945 Murder on a Government Reservation Gas chamber Harry S. Truman

See also[edit]