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Trial begins for Casper woman accused of aggravated vehicular homicide

(Greg Hirst, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo. — The trial of Yvonne Kessel, charged with aggravated homicide by vehicle, began Monday in Natrona County District Court.

Kessel is charged in the death of Cruz Paulsen on the afternoon of Nov. 7, 2021. Emergency and police units were dispatched to the intersection of East 3rd and South Country Club Road around 4:01 p.m. for a report of an accident involving a motorcycle and a minivan.

Investigators determined that Kessel, the driver of the minivan, was northbound on Country Club while the motorcycle was headed south, according to the affidavit filed by Casper police. The minivan did not stop while turning west onto 3rd Street and collided with the motorcycle in the intersection. The report says the collision was captured on the dash cam of an unrelated vehicle.

Paulsen suffered extensive head injuries in the crash and was declared deceased at the Wyoming Medical Center.

Police said Kessel failed standardized field sobriety tests at the scene. A blood draw completed about an hour and a half after the collision showed Kessel’s blood alcohol level at 0.211%, almost three times the legal limit of 0.08%.

The 12-member jury was empaneled Monday afternoon before the Honorable Judge Dan Forgey. Assistant District Attorney Blaine Nelson is leading the prosecution, while Ron Wirthwein is leading the defense.

The charge carries a possible 20-year sentence. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

CORRECTION: This article has been corrected to indicate that Judge Dan Forgey is the presiding judge.