A Torrington man has pleaded No Contest to 2nd-degree murder in the death of a 20-year old woman in Torrington in April. 32-year old Sean Pettus was originally charged with 1st-degree murder for killing Madison Cook.
The plea agreement also has Pettus pleading guilty to 1st-degree arson, felony theft, and 2 counts of burglary. He faces between 20 years and life prison on the murder count.
Goshen County Attorney Eric Boyer told KNEB News that prosecutors could have sought the death penalty, but with no executions carried out in over 2 decades the plea agreement saves the taxpayers the cost of a trial and appeals.
Pettus, a graduate of Lingle High School, was on parole from a burglary conviction in Cody when he met Cook while working at a Torrington truck stop.
They began dating and after several months described themselves on the Facebook pages as married. Cook’s family later told police there had been a pattern of violence in their relationship.
Cook was found dead April 20 with multiple stab wounds and ligature marks around her neck indicating she was strangled. Pettus later set fire to the building that housed his tattoo business and stole a car.
Court records show that after his arrest, Pettus made a series of strange statements to police including that he thought everyone in Torrington was against him, the city was filled with ninjas, and he heard whispering next to his business.
Pettus has a documented history of mental illness. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and was admitted to the Wyoming State Hospital several time, but was found competent to stand trial.