After a three day trial this week, a jury acquitted the former ranch foreman of Albany County’s Double 4 Ranch of aggravated assault and battery.
The ranch foreman, Scott Dunlap, hit a Laramie hunter, Matt Allshouse, in the head with a shovel in April, knocking the victim unconscious in northern Albany County and leaving him with vision issues.
Though it determined Dunlap did not act in self-defense, the jury acquitted him of aggravated assault and battery, which would’ve carried a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.
To convict him of that felony, the jury would’ve needed to determined that Dunlap’s use of his shovel qualified the tool as a “deadly weapon.”
Instead, the jury convicted Dunlap of battery, a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail.
Dunlap remains out on bond, and his attorney said this was his first criminal conviction. While he’s only been convicted of a misdemeanor, Albany County Attorney Peggy Trent requested a pre-sentence investigation.
After Allshouse and his friend had spent two days camping near Laramie Peak in late April, the hunters were headed back to town when they spotted turkeys off of Cottonwood Park Road. Allshouse shot a turkey from the road after his friend’s GPS indicated they were on BLM land.
Allshouse originally told police he shot the turkey in the field before his friend eventually turned over video evidence five months later that showed otherwise.
“I grew up hunting in Wyoming and I pride myself as an outdoorsman and ecologist and I didn’t want that to tarnish my reputation as a good sportsman,” he said.
After Allshouse went to grab the turkey, he was confronted by Dunlap upon returning to his truck.
Dunlap approached him holding the shovel in a “port of arms” position and yelled at him for trespassing.
After an “extremely short exchange” in which Dunlap never asked Allshouse to drop his shotgun, Dunlap hit the Laramie ecologist in the left temple with a shovel, briefly knocking Allshouse unconscious.
“The first thing I remembered was it raining outside. Then I opened my eyes and realized it wasn’t raining. It was me bleeding on the ground,” Allshouse said at trial.
Allshouse later received eight stitches at Ivinson Memorial Hospital and received treatment at Laramie Vision Clinic for vision issues.
When Dunlap was identified as the main suspect, the ranch hand confirmed to the Albany County Sheriff’s Office much of the events as the hunter had attested to. Dunlap confirmed he argued the hunters were on True Ranches property while the two men argued they were on BLM land.
When asked if he was provoked or threatened by the victim, Dunlap told the sheriff’s office that the victim had plenty of opportunities to put his gun down and he didn’t do it.
Double 4 Ranch is owned by True Ranches, and the company’s security director, Greg Groves, told authorities that Dunlap violated company policy, which indicates that employees should not confront trespassers. Groves said Dunlap had received training on that policy.
Dunlap’s attorney, Cole Sherard, urged the jury to discard Groves’s perspective, saying that he “only has one interest: Protecting True Ranches from liability.”
At trial, Allshouse confirmed he had hired an attorney to sue True Ranches, citing concern about his ability to pay for his medical expenses.
According to pre-trial motions, Laramie game warden Kelly Todd has received a number of reports about Dunlap aggressively confronting hunters. Todd himself said Dunlap had aggressively confronted him once before realizing his identity.
At trial, detective Derek Colling said that after talking to Groves and listening to audio of the attack, it became clear to him that there “was absolutely no justification” for Dunlap’s actions.