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Accused Police Officer In Custody, Makes Initial Appearance

Laura Starnes-Wells in Court During her Initial appearance

Laura Starnes-Wells, a Casper Police Officer who has been accused of felony child abuse, has turned herself in and has made her initial appearance in Natrona County Circuit Court before Judge H. Steven Brown.

The 41-year-old Starnes-Wells appeared in the courtroom just before 2:00 pm, wearing street clothes and jail shackles. Before facing the Judge, Oil City has confirmed that Starnes-Wells was booked into the Natrona County Detention Center on a charge of “Criminal Warrant.” During her initial appearance, Starnes-Wells was officially charged with one count of felony Child Abuse.

A warrant for Starnes-Wells has been on the books for sometime, but the suspect had been out of town when the warrant was issued. Sheriff’s Department officials, who are investigating the case because of Starnes-Wells ties to the Police Department, said that it was their understanding that she had been there on a pre-planned vacation.

During court, however, when Starnes-Welles was asked to give her address, she gave an out-of-state address, but did say she was employed at the Casper Police Department, and gave the judge a local Casper number. When discussing bond recommendations, representatives for the prosecution said that the State was unaware of Starnes-Wells having relocated.

Bond in the case was set at $10,000- 10% cash. The judge has ordered Starnes-Wells to maintain contact with the courts and her attorney, have no contact with the alleged victims. Starnes-Wells was also ordered not to leave the United States, but would be allowed to return to her new home out-of-state.

Members of the prosecution asked for an order of no-contact between Starnes-Wells and her husband Todd Wells, who stands accused on a misdemeanor Child Endangerment charge in a related case.  Attorney for the defense, Laramie based lawyer Tom Fleener, objected to the no-contact order, saying it would be unusual to have such an order between a husband and wife.  Judge Brown did not grant the no-contact order.

Todd Wells turned himself into law enforcement in late February, after warrants were issued for the arrest of the couple. Both Starnes-Wells and Todd Wells are on administrative leave from the police force.

An investigation was undertaken in May of 2016, after allegations were made by Natrona County School District Staff that Laura Starnes-Wells might be abusing a teenage child.

During an interview with one of the victims, the affidavit notes that Todd Wells involvement was that he would “make sure” severe punishments were carried out, and that “he could have stopped it.”

Charges can be subject to change, and all suspects are considered innocent until otherwise proven in court.