Jury returns verdict in Kovach trial
by Sublette Examiner
January 5, 2012
Thursday, Jan. 5, around 11:45 a.m. a Sublette County jury returned its verdicts in the Ninth District Court trial of Travis J. Kovach, 34, of Daniel.
After an Oct. 15, 2010, encounter on La Barge Creek Road and a nearby Forest Service road and campsite, Kovach was charged with two counts each of kidnapping, felonious restraint, battery and aggravated assault and battery, as well as charges of unauthorized use of a vehicle and property destruction.
The jury found Kovach not guilty of two counts of kidnapping two brothers from Kansas who had an elk hunting camp about 200 yards from Kovach’s – Jess, then 73, and Richard Ribelin, then 67, after the vehicles they were driving met and passed on the narrow dirt road.
The jury found Kovach not guilty of felonious restraint of Richard, but found him guilty of false imprisonment. For the charge of felonious restraint against Jess Ribelin, Kovach was found guilty.
He was also found guilty of two counts of battery and aggravated assault and battery, of the unauthorized use of Jess Ribelin’s truck and property destruction.
Prosecution included Sublette County Attorney Neal Stelting and Deputy Attorney Clayton Kainer. Private attorney Jerry Bosch, of Wilson, Wyoming, led the defense.
During the week-long trial, witnesses testified the side mirror of the borrowed Cadillac Escalade Kovach was driving was broken and, enraged, he struck the brothers, took away a pair of fencing pliers, unholstered his gun and forced them to return with him to his hunting camp to apologize for the damage.
Once at the camp, still furious, he again assaulted the two men, they testified. The woman owning the Escalade took the two injured men to the Marbleton Clinic where they were met by deputies and treated by doctors.
Kovach was taken into custody after the verdicts and is being held on $50,000 cash or property bond. Judge Marv Tyler will order a pre-sentence investigation report.
For more information, see the January 10, 2012 Sublette Examiner.