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Gillette man sentenced to prison for aggravated child abuse

Campbell County Courthouse

GILLETTE, Wyo. — A Campbell County District Court judge on Monday sentenced Tyler Bryan Martinson of Gillette to four to eight years in prison for aggravated child abuse.

Martinson was convicted May 10 of six counts of felony aggravated child abuse after a jury found him guilty of recklessly breaking five of his 3-month-old son’s rib bones and one of his femurs. The jury acquitted Martinson of four counts of felony aggravated child abuse because the prosecution failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Martinson was responsible for four corner fractures on the child’s legs. The child’s mother, Keasha Bullinger, received three years unsupervised probation and was mandated to take child care classes after she pleaded no contest May 16 to one charge of child endangerment.

Campbell County Attorney Greg Steward July 25 asked Judge Stuart Healy III to sentence Martinson to 18 to 25 years in prison for the first five counts and 18 to 25 years for the count regarding the child’s leg. The sentences would total 36 to 50 years in prison.

The state argued its suggested sentence was appropriate because Martinson’s actions were “cruel” and “egregious,” and his punishment needed to communicate to both him and the community that the behavior was unacceptable. The state also argued that Martinson, who was 28 when he was charged with the crimes, is a young man who might parent and harm another child.

“The community needs to be protected from his hands,” Steward said.

Defense attorney Cassie Craven said Martinson wants to be a good father. He has taken more than a dozen child care and family life classes since the charges, she said. Craven said that Hope Counseling Services LLC counselor Kelley Boltin diagnosed Martinson with persistent depressive disorder, also referred to as dysthymia, and acute post-traumatic stress disorder. According to Boltin, Martinson will have reduced access to mental health services in prison, Craven said.

“My client wants to be a dad,” Craven said. “He wants to be a good dad.”

Tyler’s parents, Mike and Gwyn, asked the judge for leniency. Gwyn said Tyler has been ostracized in the community.

In his last words before the judge, Tyler said that he loves his son.

The judge said that the case isn’t black and white. He noted that the jury tossed nearly half of the charges and that the probation officer assigned to the presentence investigation did not make a sentencing recommendation, which is unusual. Those reports typically tell judges whether the defendant is a good candidate for community supervision, Healy said.

He said the court is duty-bound to assign a sentence that sufficient but not greater than necessary.

“Mr. Martinson has punished himself far more than I can,” Healy said.

In addition to the four to eight years in prison, Martinson will also need to pay about $10,000 in fees, including a $1,500 fine per count.

Martinson hugged loved ones after the sentencing. He has the right to appeal the decision within 30 days upon final judgement.

Craven said “no comment” when County 17 asked for a statement.

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