Former Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper Loses Sentencing Appeal in Kidnapping Plot
A former Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment for a kidnapping and murder plot lost another appeal of his sentence in federal court earlier this month.
"In the present case, the Court is denying Mr. (Franklin) Ryle's Amended Motion on procedural grounds, namely the timeliness of the Amended Motion," U.S. District Court Judge Alan Johnson wrote.
In January 2009, Franklin Joseph Ryle, Jr., of Douglas illegally arrested and kidnapped a Walmart truck driver near Douglas in January 2009, and used his service weapon in the arrest. Ryle intended to murder the driver and stage an accident with the truck that would either injure him or kill Ryle’s wife. As part of the scheme, Ryle intended to seek a monetary settlement from Wal-Mart.
He pleaded guilty in July 2009 and was sentenced in November to 10 years, one month imprisonment for depriving a person of his rights while acting under color of law (as a trooper); and a consecutive five years for possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.
Ryle appealed an appeal to vacate his sentence in August 2017.
He claimed the sentence for the possession of a firearm should be reversed because the law is unconstitutionally vague, his attorneys were ineffective because they failed to appeal the sentence and they failed to ask for a competency hearing, and that the prosecutor recommended a larger sentence at the sentencing hearing than the one recommended as part of the plea agreement, according to the motion filed by his attorney Michael Stulken of Green River.
Ryle did not file an appeal earlier for several reasons: the case law about the unconstitutionality of the firearm sentence was not decided until December 2016; he initially was imprisoned far from his family and an attorney to help him file his appeal; and was in a reduced mental state because of severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Johnson responded that Ryle did not pursue his claims to the best of his ability and that his circumstances were not so difficult that they prevented him from filing his petition in a timely manner.
In June 2018, Johnson dismissed Ryle's motion as untimely.
In July, Ryle appealed the dismissal and filed amended motion dealing only with a federal law -- that the criminal code's definition of "crime of violence" was vague in terms of due process -- that was declared unconstitutional in the federal court in California.
Johnson granted the amended motion.
A federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., responded that Ryle's objection about the vagueness of the law in question as well as other objections were without merit.
Johnson agreed and dismissed the case on Jan. 15.