CASPER, Wyo. –During a sentencing hearing in Casper’s 7th District Court on Friday, Dale Wayne Eaton, also known as “Lil Miss Killer,” was apparently overlooked by the Department of Corrections (DOC) as they did not deliver Eaton to his scheduled sentencing hearing.
District Judge Daniel L. Forgey primarily addressed the victim’s family gathered in the courtroom last Friday, saying, “Despite the transportation order issued in November, Eaton was not transported… He’s not here.
Before Forgery made the announcement earlier, prosecutor Michael Blonigan broke the news to the family in attendance, who were visibly shaken by the news. The victim’s mother demanded that Eaton be brought to the sentence in person, refusing to accept an appearance on Zoom.
“I want him here, this is my last time,” the victim’s mother, Shelia Kimmell, said as she burst into tears. “To be victimized again by the state after all of this.”
At some point, lead defense attorney Sean O’Brien approached the Kimmell family and spoke to Shelia.
“I’m sorry,” O’Brien told him.
“No, you are not. No, you are not. Get a handful,” Kimmell told O’Brien.
Judge Forgery said this was the second time this sentencing hearing had been postponed and that is something, “I don’t take lightly.”
On September 30, 2020, Eaton was ordered to undergo a skills assessment by Wyoming State Hospital and Dr. Elizabeth Donegan. After submitting their findings to the district court on August 26, 2021, the evaluators determined that “Mr. Eaton is not competent to continue and is unlikely to be restored to competence.”
“Findings by Wyoming State Hospital-appointed examiners that Mr. Eaton’s brain function has been impaired by the recent strokes,” the court documents state.
Eaton had filed a motion to appear by video for the sentencing hearing which was denied in October. Eaton is being held at the Wyoming Medium Security Correctional Institute in Torrington.
Eaton was represented by councilors named Lindsey Runnels, Terry Harris and Sean O’Brien. Michael Blonigan was the state attorney general.
Eaton was convicted of the premeditated murder of Mrs. Lisa Marie Kimmell, the murder of Miss Kimmell during a kidnapping, the murder of Miss Kimmell during a robbery, the crime of killing Miss Kimmell during of sexual assault, felony robbery and sexual assault in the first degree by a Natrona County jury on March 17, 2004, and was sentenced to death on March 20, 2004.
Kimmell had the famous “LIL MISS” on the license plate of his car which was buried by Eaton on his property, which was later recovered after the case remained unsolved for 14 years until DNA evidence linked Eaton in 2002. Kimmell’s body was discovered in the North Platte River near Casper in April 1988.
On June 2, 2004, Judge David B. Park sentenced Eaton to death on all four counts of Miss Kimmell’s murder plus life in prison and 40 years on the additional three counts.
The Wyoming Supreme Court upheld Eaton’s convictions and sentences in 2008 and 2009.
In May 2013, Eaton petitioned the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming for a writ of habeas corpus.
On November 20, 2014, Judge Alan B. Johnson granted a habeas corpus waiver, finding that Mr. Eaton had suffered prejudice due to the constitutionally deficient performance of trial and appellate counsel in relates to the sentencing phase of his capital trial.
Johnson ordered that Eaton be given a re-sentencing proceeding, ordering that he remain incarcerated by the state of Wyoming. The order quashed the death sentence on four counts, but left three counts still intact, which sentenced Eaton to life in prison plus 40 years.
On January 5, 2015, the state filed its intention to seek the death penalty. Eaton was ordered to submit to a competency evaluation on September 30, 2020.
Eaton was the only death row inmate in Wyoming.
Despite Eaton not being surrendered by the DOJ for his sentencing hearing on Friday, a new date will be set for the non-capital sentencing hearing which will seek life in prison. Eaton is already currently serving life in prison as part of his current sentence.