Suspect involved with 2020 police-involved shooting enters 'not guilty' plea - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Suspect involved with 2020 police-involved shooting enters ‘not guilty’ plea

Kayla Wollitz appears at a hearing on December 18, 2020; where she waived her preliminary hearing. Wollitz is charged with Kidnapping and Robbery and has entered a plea of “not guilty” in District Court. (Trevor T. Trujillo, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo. —  A woman accused of robbery and kidnapping, in an incident that led to a fatal police-involved shooting, has entered a plea to the charges against her.

Suspect Kayla Wollitz, who faces felony charges of Robbery and Kidnapping, appeared briefly in person in Natrona County Circuit Court Tuesday Feb. 23, 2021. During the hearing, District Court officials say that Wollitz entered a plea of “not guilty.”

Another suspect, Darron Cole Monroe, similarly waived his preliminary hearing on Thursday December 17. His case will be headed to District Court as well. Monroe is charged with Aggravated Robbery and Aggravated Kidnapping in the case.

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A third suspect, identified by law enforcement paperwork as Robert Land, was killed in an exchange of gunfire with police, after officers responded to a reported kidnapping on August 6, 2020.

Wollitz was arrested on the scene in February, for a misdemeanor charge of Possession of a Controlled Substance, to which she was found guilty and fined. Following the announcement of the Aggravated Kidnapping and Aggravated Robbery charges against Monroe, NCSO officials also announced that Wollitz was wanted on an extraditable warrant in the case.

Wollitz was eventually arrested in the Wyoming community of Shoshoni, and transported to Natrona County, where she was then officially charged with Kidnapping and Robbery.

The drug charges from August and the recent charges from the alleged kidnapping and robbery stem from the same alleged incident that began in the late night hours of Aug. 6, and culminated in the police involved-shooting of Land on Aug. 7.

An affidavit of probable cause, filed by the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office, confirms that the identity of the victim in the cas as an alleged sub-distributor of methamphetamine for the deceased suspect, Robert Land.

Natrona County emergency dispatch was called at approximately 7:24 am, Aug. 7, 2020 by a reporting party who was located in the state of Texas. The caller said that a woman with whom they were acquainted had contacted them via Facebook Messenger saying she was being held against her will at gunpoint and the suspects were requesting $250 for her release.

During the Facebook Messenger exchange, the woman said she was being held in a brick apartment building near 22nd and Jefferson Streets in Casper, and identified her captors as Monroe and Land.

Casper PD reportedly responded to the scene to locate the woman and check on her welfare.

“In the course of their welfare check, shots were fired between officers and a kidnapping suspect, later identified as Land,” NCSO deputies write in their affidavit. “Because the Casper Police Department officers were involved in the shooting, agents with the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) and the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office were asked to investigate.”

Related Story: VIDEO- Body cam footage shows police-involved shooting from four perspectives

DCI agents investigated the circumstances of the officer-involved shooting and the NCSO investigated the allegations of Kidnapping and Robbery.

The affidavit filed by the NCSO in the Aggravated Kidnapping and Aggravated Robbery case against Monroe cite multiple recorded interviews conducted with the victim, who had been injured by bullet fragments from the exchange of gunfire.

The victim was transported an area hospital following the incident, and was eventually released.

Deputies say that during the interviews, the victim admitted that she knew Land and sold drugs for him, telling investigators that she also sent numerous people to purchase drugs, usually methamphetamine, from Land. The victim also claimed that she did not owe Land any money.

It’s alleged that during the evening hours of August 6, 2020; the victim had received threatening messages from Land, and that she had gone to an acquaintance’s home in Mills because she did not feel safe.

The affidavit goes on to say that the victim reported that during the early morning hours of Aug. 7, a vehicle pulled up outside the Mills home. The victim was contacted by Land, Monroe, and Wollitz. The accuser reported that Monroe was carrying a baseball bat and was hitting it “across the ground,” during the exchange.

The victim says she was asked for money and her purse and its contents were taken by Land. It is further alleged that Land also took the victim’s cellular phone and turned it off.

The victim says she was told to get into the vehicle, sitting in the back seat with Land. Wollitz was alleged to be driving and Monroe was in the front-passenger seat, still holding the baseball bat. The victim then noted that Monroe was carrying handgun.

The vehicle left the residence, and during the drive, it’s claimed that Land asked the victim for money, initially saying that she owed him $140 and then it was later claimed that he amended the amount to $250.

Deputies say that the accuser then claimed that she was taken to a private apartment near 22nd and Jefferson Streets in Casper, arriving sometime about sunrise on the morning of Aug. 7. Just prior to arrival, the victim claims that Land “racked” the handgun and Monroe began banging the bat on the floorboard of the vehicle.

While inside the apartment it was reported that Monroe paced the apartment while carrying the baseball bat and Land kept the gun covered with a red-colored bandana.

According to the affidavit, the victim claims that she was eventually given her phone, after she told Land that she had to cancel a meeting with another person. While in possession of the phone, she was able to send a Facebook message to several people, including the eventual reporting party in Texas.

The victim claims that Land heard noises outside the apartment, and saw law enforcement outside a window. Upon announcement of the police presence, the victim claims that Monroe placed the baseball bat under a sofa in the apartment, and Land ordered everyone in the apartment into a bedroom.

Eventually the other occupants of the apartment left the accuser and Land alone in the bedroom, with the accuser claiming that Land held onto her tightly.

The affidavit says that the victim recalled police yelling prior to Land firing shots, after officers attempted to make entry into the bedroom. The victim reported that Land fired one round in the direction of the bedroom door. After this she claims to have pulled away and curled up on the floor. When officers attempted to enter a second time, Land reported fired two additional shots toward the bedroom door. When officers returned fire, the victim claims she saw Land struck by police gunfire.

Deputies also cite an interview with Wollitz who reportedly initially denied helping Land and Monroe to find the victim, but then explained that Land was “on a mission” to find her.

Wollitz told investigators that the victim had run with drugs, stating that she believed the drug to have been methamphetamine.

Wollitz said that she, Monroe, and Land had left in Wollitz’ vehicle to find the victim at a private home. She then confirmed that the victim got into the car with them and they returned to an apartment on Jefferson and 22nd. Wollitz also claimed that Monroe was in possession of a baseball bat, and Land in possession of a gun.

During the interview with deputies, the affidavit says that Wollitz admitted to putting together “a shot” of methamphetamine for Land and handed it to him, prior to the exchange of gunfire with police.

Wollitz is currently being held on a $40,000 cash or surety bond, which was continued at the February 23 hearing.

Monroe is being held on $50,000 cash-only bond.

All of those cited or arrested are presumed innocent until convicted in a court of law. Charges are subject to change following official filings from the Natrona County District Attorney’s Office. Information is provided by the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office.