Crooks pleads not guilty to charges related to racially-charged assault

James Crooks's booking photo. He has been released on bond.

James Crooks’s booking photo. He has been released on bond.

By Joshua Scheer, lead reporter,

(Lander, Wyo.) – James Edward Crooks, 24, of Hudson, pleaded not guilty this afternoon to charges related to an incident in the early morning hours of March 9 of this year when he is alleged to have struck Darryn Davis, also 24, outside of the Bombers Sports Bar in Riverton.

An affidavit filed to support the charges alleges that with one punch, Crooks knocked out Davis causing significant facial injuries which could not be treated at the Riverton Hospital, so Davis was flown to Casper for specialized treatment. It is also alleged that Crooks, a caucasian, called Davis, of mixed Native American and African American ancestry, a racial slur before striking him.

Davis was in attendance at Crooks’s arraignment Thursday afternoon.

Crooks is charged with felony aggravated assault and batter and misdemeanor battery. He pleaded not guilty to both charges. The felony carries with it punishment of up to 10 years in prison and/or $10,000 in fines. The misdemeanor is punishable by up to six months in prison and/or $750 in fines.

Ninth District Court Judge Norman Young set Crooks’s trial date for July 29. His is the fifth trial scheduled for that day.

Crooks’s attorney Scott Stinson brought to Young’s attention that Circuit Court Judge Wes Roberts did not find that the state had provided sufficient information to charge that Crooks “recklessly” and “under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.” Those qualifiers were attached to the felony charge. Fremont County Attorney Mike Bennett agreed Roberts had made that ruling. Young struck those lines from the felony charge.

Read more at the link about Crooks’s preliminary hearing from Riverton Circuit Court.

–Managing Editor Ernie Over contributed to this story