- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 10, 2016

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) - The Wyoming state judge who presided over part of the Matthew Shepard murder case plans to retire after this year.

In a news release Tuesday, Wyoming Supreme Court Chief Justice E. James Burke announced District Judge Jeffrey Donnell’s intent to retire, effective Jan. 2.

Gov. Matt Mead will appoint Donnell’s successor from a list of three names submitted by the Judicial Nominating Commission, which will accept qualified applicants’ expressions of interest through Aug. 29.

The Laramie Boomerang reports (https://bit.ly/2aMMOtX) that Donnell was appointed to the bench in October 1996.

Donnell handled the case of Russell Henderson, one of the two men involved in the 1998 killing of Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student. Donnell sentenced Henderson to life in prison after Henderson pleaded guilty to kidnapping and murder.

Donnell, 64, also presided over the case of Clint Haskins, the UW student who pleaded guilty to the 2001 drunken driving deaths of eight UW student-athletes. Haskins served nearly 10 years in prison after Donnell accepted a plea agreement that included a prison sentence of 14 to 20 years.

But Donnell said some of his toughest cases involved juveniles.

“Juvenile cases can be extremely gratifying and extremely frustrating,” he said. “They are very difficult, and sometimes you just feel like there’s just nothing to be done. And that’s when they’re frustrating.”

Born in Worland, Donnell graduated from the University of Wyoming with a bachelor’s degree in 1974. After earning a juris doctorate from the UW College of Law in 1977, he worked a Worland private practice until his judicial appointment.

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Information from: Laramie Boomerang, https://www.laramieboomerang.com


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