- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 18, 2014

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - A teenager was justified in killing a man who tried to abduct his estranged wife from a northern Wyoming home last month, a prosecutor announced Tuesday.

Campbell County Attorney Jeani Stone announced that she won’t press charges against the unidentified 15-year-old boy, who fatally shot Sammy Fears, 48, of Casper, on Feb. 19.

Stone said in a written statement that the boy shot Fears after the man went to a house in Wright and forced Cathy Fears, his wife of 24 years, into his car.

The Wright home where Cathy Fears had been staying belonged to a friend of hers, Stone said Tuesday. Stone said confidentiality rules prohibited her from revealing the boy’s identity.

Cathy Fears had left Casper five days earlier to escape her husband, according to Stone’s statement. It states he had been abusing her for four or five years and had repeatedly threatened to kill her. She told investigators she had reported the violence to Casper police.

At the time of his death, domestic violence charges were pending against Sammy Fears in Casper for an incident involving his wife last June, Stone stated. The day before he died, he had been served a summons to appear in court.

After the shooting, investigators found a loaded .44 Special revolver spotted with blood. They believe Fears discarded the gun after he was shot. Inside Fears‘ car, they found two more handguns, a rifle and shotgun, all of them loaded. He had a previous fraud conviction and was disqualified from owning guns.

Fears was alive when police responded to the scene, but died on the way to a hospital from a gunshot wound to the chest. Toxicology tests later found he had methamphetamine and amphetamine in his system.

Stone’s statement gives the following account of the shooting:

- Cathy Fears and the teenager were the only people home when Sammy Fears arrived at the Wright residence. He knocked on the back door and then entered through the unlocked front door.

- Cathy Fears fought her husband as he grabbed her and put her in the front seat of his car.

Cathy stated it took everything Sam had to shove her into the front passenger seat,” the release stated. “He kept punching her in the chest.”

- After putting his wife in his car, Sammy Fears went back inside apparently to pick up his wife’s purse and dog. The boy pointed a .22-caliber handgun at Sammy Fears, who said, “Hey, easy buddy” and ran out of the home.

- The boy stepped outside and shot Sammy Fears. The teen later told investigators that he shot the man, “because he was going to hurt her, no matter what” and that he didn’t want her to “lose her life.” The boy had heard earlier that Sammy Fears routinely carried guns.

Investigators later found the doors on the Fears’ home in Casper had been screwed shut after Cathy Fears left on Feb. 14. A witness who had seen Sammy Fears the day before he died told investigators that he was “acting very strange” and had a gun in every room.

Casper District Attorney Mike Blonigen said Tuesday that his office dismissed the domestic violence charge against Sammy Fears after his death. “We had a history of domestic violence on the guy in our county,” he said.

Blonigen said he wasn’t surprised at Stone’s decision not to file criminal charges against the teenager.

“When you’re in your home, even from the old law from 100 years ago, you never had a duty to retreat in your own house,” Blonigen said. “And not only that, from everything with this guy’s history of violence, it seemed that everything of this young man’s fear that he was going to harm Ms. Fears was reasonable.”

Sam Fears, Sammy’s father, lives in North Dakota and said Tuesday that he had no comment on the decision not to prosecute the teenager who shot his son.

“I am Sammy’s father,” Sam Fears said. “I can’t talk about it right now.”

___

Associated Press news researcher Barbara Sambriski contributed to this report.


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