WY trooper’s sentencing delayed for scheme to slay trucker

| 10/20/2009

A former Wyoming state trooper is claiming he had “reduced mental capacity” when he kidnapped and planned to kill a trucker last January, according to federal court documents.

In January, Franklin Ryle Jr. arrested a Wal-Mart truck driver during a traffic stop on Interstate 25 outside of Douglas, WY. Ryle later admitted he had planned to arrest and kill the trucker before staging a crash and collecting settlement money from the retail giant.

This summer, Ryle pleaded guilty to felony charges for depriving a trucker of his rights and using a firearm in a violent crime. Ryle faces up to 19 years in prison for the murder scheme.

Recent court filings include a prosecutor’s claims that Ryle used his capacity as a trooper to extort money from a different man in 2006, and also that he stole $1,000 from the Highway Patrol Association. He also embezzled cash bonds from the Wyoming Highway Patrol.

Ryle’s defense includes testimony from a psychiatrist that says the former trooper had reduced mental capacity. The Department of Justice attorney prosecuting the case has asked for a sentencing delay to give time for another doctor to examine Ryle.

The court papers also include several chilling details about Ryle’s plans, including:

  • During questioning, Ryle told investigators that “he and ‘every other Trooper’ have joked that if they are ever hit by a truck, they hope it is a Wal-Mart truck.”
  • Ryle placed chop blocks between the Wal-Mart driver’s wheels, and instructed him to start the truck engine and leave it running.
  • Ryle’s wife told investigators that her husband called her around the time of the Wal-Mart driver’s arrest, saying he had the “opportunity of a lifetime.” He instructed her to make up a reason to drop their kids off at her mother’s residence, and to report back to their home.
  • Ryle’s wife said her husband told her that a Wal-Mart driver was dead in his truck cab, and that he planned to stage an accident. Ryle told her he planned to smash the driver’s head against the windshield to cause injuries consistent with a crash.
  • Ryle handcuffed the driver and told him he had a warrant out of Colorado before the trooper drove to a house. Ryle went into the house for about 10 minutes, returned to the car, and drove the driver back to his truck. The driver watched Ryle “tapping his ticket book with a pen and adjusting the dashboard video screen,” appearing to contemplate what to do next. Ryle then released him and said there was an error.
  • Another Wyoming trooper, Devan Henderson, admitted to investigators that Ryle had spoken to him several times about staging a truck wreck to crash into a car driven by Ryle’s wife. Henderson said he didn’t know whether Ryle was serious, but “did not want to be considered a ‘rat’ ” if Ryle turned out to be joking.
  • Ryle told Henderson the next day that his scheme to defraud Wal-Mart would have to be replaced by a similar plan to pull over a Halliburton truck. Wal-Mart’s trucks, he said, have GPS devices that hamper such maneuvers.

Ryle is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 29 by U.S. District Judge Clarence Brimmer in Wyoming.

Ryle is reportedly suspected of smuggling steroids into the U.S. from Mexico and abusing his now estranged wife. Investigators found vials and syringes in his work desk, and a bottle of vodka in his patrol car.

In a text message to Henderson asking his former co-worker to remove the syringes and vials from his desk, Ryle wrote, “Make it vanish . …You can have it. I got bigger problems now.”

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer