- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 23, 2014

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - A Sublette Count district judge will set a sentencing hearing early next year for a Pinedale man who recently pleaded guilty to three counts of attempted murder in home invasion attacks on local women.

Brian James McDonald, 37, pleaded guilty to three counts of attempted second-degree murder last month. In exchange, Sublette County Attorney Neal Stelting agreed to drop 12 other felony counts. District Judge Marvin L. Tyler will set a sentencing date once he receives a presentence report due to him from a probation officer in early January.

McDonald’s lawyer, Elisabeth Trefonas, and Stelting agreed to recommend McDonald receive no less than 50 years and no more than 70 years in prison.

Stelting declined comment on the case this week while Trefonas didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

McDonald was charged in connection with three attacks against women in Pinedale, the first in 2010, the second in 2012 and the most recent this May. The victims were beaten in their residences and suffered serious injuries.

“There were no signs of sexual assault in any of the three attacks, and it appears that the only motive was to kill the sleeping and defenseless victims,” Sublette County Detective Lance A. Gehlhausen wrote in a statement in support of the charges.

Gehlhausen stated investigators recovered DNA from a glove the assailant left at the scene of the 2010 attack. The victim was beaten with a weight from a weightlifting set and later told investigators she didn’t remember being attacked.

The victim in the 2012 attack was staying at the Sublette County Sexual Assault and Family Violence Task Force house in Pinedale. Another person found her lying in bed suffering from head injuries. Her 3-year-old daughter was in the same apartment.

The victim in the 2012 attack recently filed a federal lawsuit against the Sublette County Sexual Assault and Family Violence Task Force, saying the group failed to provide adequate security. The task force filed a response last month denying responsibility for the attack and asking that the lawsuit be dismissed.

In the most recent attack, on May 28, a woman awoke in her Pinedale residence to find a man beating her with a baseball bat. She told investigators that she screamed at the man, and he took off running. Gehlhausen stated that he found a broken bat at the scene.

Investigators focused on McDonald after receiving a tip that he had a suspicious injury to his face and hadn’t sought medical attention after the most recent attack.

According to Gehlhausen’s statement, McDonald told investigators he had been out late at night watching a meteor shower and had tripped and injured his face. He voluntarily provided investigators with a DNA sample.

In July, the Wyoming Crime Lab concluded McDonald’s DNA was a match with DNA found on the glove at the scene of the 2010 assault. On Aug. 22, the lab reported that DNA taken from a barbecue grill at the latest assault was consistent with McDonald’s DNA.

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