Laramie County District Judge Peter Froelicher sentenced 48-year-old Peter Summerhawk of Cheyenne to 15-20 years in prison last Wednesday. Summerhawk pled guilty to two counts of first-degree sexual abuse of a child and one count of third-degree sexual abuse of a child.
The sentencing comes after over two years of legal proceedings. In August 2020, Cheyenne Police received a report that a juvenile female had been sexually assaulted by an adult male for several months.
Following a thorough investigation, Cheyenne Police Detectives sent a detailed five-page affidavit of probable cause to the Laramie County District Attorney’s office on October 29, 2020. Additionally, a 32-page investigative report was also completed and submitted on November 2, 2020.
Over seven months later, on June 8, 2021, detectives received a “declination of case” letter signed by former District Attorney Leigh Ann Manlove indicating that the case could not be prosecuted because additional information was needed. However, detectives were not contacted regarding these questions prior to an email dated June 7, 2021.
In response, on August 10, 2021, former City Attorney Mike O’Donnell, on behalf of the Cheyenne Police Department, filed a petition requesting that the investigation be reassigned to the Wyoming Attorney General’s office.
The petition was filed in accordance with Wyoming Statute 9-1-603 which states that, if a district or county attorney fails or refuses to act in any criminal or civil case in which the state is involved, the Attorney General can act on behalf of the county, state or other agency at the request of the county’s board of commissioners or a district judge from that county, if after a thorough investigation, the action is deemed advisable by the Attorney General.
Approximately one month after O’Donnell’s petition, his successor, City Attorney Stefanie Boster, filed an amended petition providing additional information.
In November 2021, a judge granted the city’s request to have the Attorney General’s office review and prosecute the case which resulted in Summerhawk’s guilty plea.
“On behalf of the Cheyenne Police Department, I want to commend the Wyoming Attorney General’s office for their tireless work on this case, as well as our detective bureau for their commitment to building a solid case,” said Chief Mark Francisco. “Strong partnerships resulted in a conviction despite roadblocks along the way.”