Casper Man In June Standoff Pleads Not Guilty In Federal Court
A Casper man pleaded not guilty in federal court on Friday to drug and assault charges related to a high-speed chase from Casper to Glenrock and back ending in a nearly four-hour standoff in early June.
Christopher Eads entered his plea to the nine counts during his arraignment and detention hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Shickich.
Eads remains in custody because of the risks that he may not appear for future court dates if he is released, he remains a danger to the community, and there is an outstanding warrant for his arrest from Denver County District Court in Colorado, according to the minutes of the hearing.
His addiction issues also were a factor in his detention, according to the minutes. "The defendant recognizes he cannot be in the community until he has completed a treatment program because he would be unable to remain clean with the benefit of completing a treatment program."
If convicted on all counts, Eads faces 60 years to life imprisonment.
His trial is scheduled to being in Casper before U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl on Oct. 16.
Eads and his accomplice and girlfriend Santana Keener originally were charged in state district court in Natrona and Converse counties respectively with many of the same crimes.
The state has dismissed those charges now that the federal grand jury handed up an indictment and the Wyoming U.S. Attorney's Office took over the case.
Eads is charged with nine counts:
1. Conspiracy to distribute heroin and methamphetamine.
2. Use and carry a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime.
3. Possess with intent to distribute heroin and methamphetamine and aiding and abetting.
4. Discharge of a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime and aiding and abetting.
5. Carjacking and aiding and abetting.
7. Assault on a federal -- Drug Enforcement Administration -- officer.
8. Discharge of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.
9. Felon in possession of a firearm.
Keener is charged with counts one through five, and nine. According to court records, she has not had an initial appearance scheduled yet.
The case started in April when an agent with the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation discovered a drug-trafficking organization in Natrona County, and identified Eads as its main supplier of methamphetamine and heroin, according to court records.
Eads traveled to Colorado on a weekly basis to re-supply and expand the organization. The DCI later placed a tracking device on Eads sport utility vehicle.
On Saturday, June 3, state and federal agents knew Eads and Keener would be returning from Denver after a drug purchase and planned to stop them on Interstate 25 before they reached Casper.
Kenner was driving that night, realized she was being followed and a chase ensued. The engine of their SUV stalled, Eads started shooting at law enforcement, Kenner started driving again, Eads switched seats and he began driving toward Casper.
He stopped in a median, turned around and drove south toward officers at speeds up to 100 mph even after spike strips blew two tires and officers were shooting at them.
Eads drove into Glenrock. Officers found the SUV and shortly after that received a report of an elderly woman who had been assaulted in her home. Eads took the keys to her car, and drove it through a garage wall, according to court documents.
The car was abandoned in a ditch in Glenrock. Eads assaulted a Glenrock police officer and stole his patrol car.
Eads left Keener in the ditch in Glenrock. She was arrested and taken into custody where officers found heroin on her person.
Eads later crashed the police car, stole another vehicle and drove north on I-25. Officers chased him into Casper.
He stopped at Dayton Transmission on East F Street where the standoff ensued. It ended about 2:30 a.m. Sunday, June 4.