Public Defender Says Death Cases Hitting Budget

By: Tax Credits
By: Tax Credits

An increase in the death penalty prosecutions has left the Wyoming Public Defender’s Office pinched for money.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports that Public Defender Diane Lozano asked members of the Joint Appropriations Committee on Wednesday in Cheyenne for an immediate appropriation of $370,000 to help cover costs.

Lozano told lawmakers that her agency spent $665,000 last fiscal year on seven potential death penalty cases. All but one of the cases were resolved when the defendants pleaded guilty and received life sentences.

In the remaining active case, defendant Nathaniel Castellanos faces a possible death penalty if he’s convicted at trial starting next month. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of shooting killing two people and wounding another in August 2011 in Cheyenne.