Details emerge in Sundance murder case

By Sarah Pridgeon

Jessie Johnson and Marty Smith appeared in Circuit Court this morning, August 3, for an initial appearance on charges related to the death of local man Doug Haar at the Sundance Travel Center in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

According to the affidavit of Chris McDonald of the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation, Sundance Police Chief Marty Noonan notified DCI of a possible homicide at the Sundance Travel Center at around 3:50 a.m. on August 1. Noonan advised that two possible suspects had left the area traveling east in a black SUV and that the victim, Doug Haar, was deceased at the scene.

The two agents interviewed a witness and obtained video of the events as well as interviewing the two suspects who returned to the scene as the investigation was underway.

The video allegedly showed Johnson and Smith enter the store at around 2:13 a.m. and walk to the soda coolers. Haar enters soon after and a verbal altercation can allegedly be seen between Smith and Haar.

According to the report, the video shows the argument continues both inside and outside the store.

According to the time stamp on the video, Haar re-enters the store at 2:26 a.m. and approaches Johnson. Smith allegedly pushes Haar and falls to the floor as he pushes her away.

The video allegedly shows Haar swing at Johnson but appear to miss, after which Johnson grabs him and puts him in a “head and arm” move and takes him to the floor at which time police were called.  Johnson allegedly holds Haar in this position for around 90 seconds while Smith holds Haar’s arm down and lies on his legs.

At around 2:29 a.m., Johnson is allegedly seen changing his position to a chokehold. Haar can later be seen making motions towards his throat with his right hand; Smith allegedly grabs his hand and holds it down.

Approximately two minutes later, McDonald states in his report that Haar does not appear to be breathing.

At 2:36 a.m., Johnson is seen on the video standing up. He then helps Smith stand and assists her out of the door, allegedly waving at the store clerk as he leaves.

An autopsy has determined the cause of death to be acute traumatic asphyxia.

Bond for both Smith and Johnson has been set at $100,000, cash only. Johnson has been charged with murder in the second degree, felony counts of voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault and battery.

Smith has been charged with accessory before the fact of murder in the second degree, felony counts of accessory before the fact of voluntary manslaughter, accessory before the fact of involuntary manslaughter and accessory before the fact of aggravated assault and battery.

Both suspects are scheduled to appear again in Circuit Court on August 10 at 10 a.m. for a preliminary hearing.