Shootout suspect pleads guilty

Adult accomplice undergoing additional psychiatric evaluation

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— Authorities in Natrona County, Wyo., are compiling a pre-sentencing report on a Craig teen who earlier this month pleaded guilty to criminal charges, including two counts of attempted murder, stemming from a botched robbery and shootout with police.

Johnathan Milligan, who originally pleaded not guilty to 10 charges, entered a change of plea Sept. 7 in Natrona County District Court.

In exchange for prosecutors dropping four counts of attempted murder, Milligan pleaded guilty to: two counts of attempted murder, conspiracy to commit second-degree murder, aggravated robbery, exhibiting a deadly weapon in commission of a robbery and possession of stolen property.

Milligan is one of six suspects who allegedly robbed a string of Moffat County businesses last year and then crossed state lines into Wyoming, where they robbed the Sunset Grill and led police on a high-speed chase that included gunfire.

The pre-sentencing report, which typically includes a drug and alcohol evaluation, will take about 45 days.

Milligan's change of plea makes him the fifth of the six suspects to plead guilty to charges. Three other teens thought to be connected to the crimes - James Gore, Steven Liljedahl and Daniel Merwin - have pleaded guilty to criminal charges and await sentencing.

Two adults, Michael Garren and Paul Martin Howell, allegedly joined the teens.

Garren accepted a plea agreement from prosecutors in exchange for pleading guilty to charges, including conspiracy to commit murder. He was sentenced in July to 20 to 30 years in the Wyoming State Penitentiary.

Howell's case is pending.

He faces nine charges: four counts of attempted murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder, possession of stolen property, aggravated robbery and exhibiting a deadly weapon in commission of a robbery.

His trial was postponed so he could undergo a psychiatric evaluation. He reportedly told jailers that he was hearing voices and wanted to hurt himself and others.

On Sept. 18, the court issued an order for Howell to undergo another evaluation from a second examiner. His trial has not been rescheduled.

Joshua Roberts can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or jroberts@craigdailypress.com.

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