In a plea bargain with the state, Cody Wagner pleaded guilty to felonious restraint rather than go to trial for the original charges he was facing — assault, battery and strangulation.
But during a hearing last week the victim said Wagner hasn’t taken responsibility for violently attacking her on New Year’s Eve 2017.
“He should be remorseful for what he did to me,” the victim said during the Jan. 8 hearing in Teton County District Court. “He severely beat me, and I trusted him with safety and love and care.”
She pleaded with the court to reject the plea deal and let the case go before a jury.
“Make this man answer for his actions in a proceeding before a jury of his peers and let them decide if he is innocent or guilty,” she said.
Wagner was supposed to go on trial in October 2019 after several continuances.
But the Driggs, Idaho, man, through his attorneys Tom Fleener and Katie Mannen, settled on a plea agreement with Teton County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Clark Allan.
Wagner’s attorneys and Allan said at the time that the victim was OK with it, even suggested it.
Fleener said the victim changed her mind because she’s suing Wagner in a civil case.
“I am concerned that the reason the victim is backtracking on the plea agreement is she wants admissions in open court by Mr. Wagner that would be damaging in the civil case,” Fleener said. “But I am not certain of any of this.”
Wagner was arrested after the victim was reportedly found covered in blood on Jan. 1, 2018, at the 49er Inn.
Someone passing by heard a fight and called 911, court records stated. When officers arrived the victim was outside and said her boyfriend had hit her.
Wagner told police they had argued about her dancing with other men at the bar, so he left without her. Wagner told officers that she attacked him when she returned to the room.
But the victim said it was the other way around, saying Wagner assaulted her when she returned to the hotel room.
“She thought she was going to die,” Jackson police Lt. Roger Schultz said at the time. “There was some indication that he may have choked her.”
Police originally charged Wagner with strangulation, but that charge was later dropped by prosecutors.
The victim was hospitalized for her injuries and released after being treated for cuts and bruises.
Wagner also had a bloody nose after the altercation, police said at the time, but wasn’t injured.
Prosecutor Allan said he didn’t feel that he had a legal basis to backpedal on the plea agreement and that the state of Wyoming stood by it.
“This is not her fault, and I want to make that very clear,” Allan told the court. “We always do our best to honor the wishes of the victim.”
The victim called the plea bargain “extremely lenient” and said it was an injustice to her and all women.
“He should recognize the importance of being respectful to women,” she said.
Wagner didn’t apologize in court. He didn’t say anything.
“I am advising Mr. Wagner to remain silent,” Fleener told the court when Judge Timothy Day asked Wagner if he had anything to say. “There is an ongoing civil case.”
The victim said she was barely given notice when Wagner entered his plea of guilty, so she didn’t get to attend the hearing. She said in hindsight she’s happy she wasn’t there because rather than accept responsibility Wagner gave a “cleverly crafted avoidance of his responsibility.”
Judge Day said he feels bad for the victim but it puts the court in an unusual position when the state stands by a plea agreement and a victim doesn’t.
“Even if [victim] had been here and was not satisfied with whatever guilty plea was taken at the change of plea the victim doesn’t hold the power to veto a plea agreement,” Day said. “That power belongs to the state and the state has said that they entered the plea agreement with [victim’s] consent and that they are still standing on that plea agreement today. The court must accept the plea agreement and impose probation before judgment on Mr. Wagner.”
Wagner will be on three years of supervised probation, per the plea deal.
A presentence investigation suggested Wagner complete anger management and mental health assessments while on probation.