John Knospler, a decorated Marine with multiple combat tours with the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Force Reconnaissance Company, and 1st Special Operations Training Group, is in need of our help. John honorably served eight years and three combat deployments serving our country.
Due to some extremely unfortunate circumstances, John has become a victim of injustice.
In October 2013, John was invited to a veteran-sponsored hunting trip with friends and family to Keeline, Wyoming. After a day of hunting, John went to a place called Racks.
There was a terrible winter blizzard that evening. When he was ready to leave, rather than drive drunk, he decided to sleep in his car. John was startled awake by James Baldwin, a Casper local and career criminal, punching through John’s driver’s-side car window, lunging at John, and threatening to kill him.
James Baldwin had a long and violent criminal history (18 felony counts of vehicle burglary, as well as multiple counts of assault and evading police).
Knospler attempted to start a manual transmission Chevy Cobalt and drive away, but was unable, because of Baldwin’s assault and the weather conditions during the blizzard. During the struggle, and in pure self-defense, John drew his pistol and shot Baldwin so that he could get away from him; he didn’t know if the attacker was acting alone. (Baldwin died.) John then headed to the local police station. He was pulled over one block from the police station.
During the course of my investigation into the events and circumstances of the incident, there are clearly some very questionable if not illegal actions that have taken place against John Knospler.
The case was tried locally and while the facts, which are highlighted below, clearly prove self-defense, John was found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to 30 to 50 years in prison. Listed below are some undisputed facts of the case.
Second-degree murder is ordinarily defined as: 1) an intentional killing that is not premeditated or planned, nor committed in a reasonable “heat of passion”; or 2) a killing caused by dangerous conduct and the offender’s obvious lack of concern for human life.
- The state’s expert confirmed that John Knospler tried to flee the situation during the attack and was unable due to weather.
- The state’s expert investigator, John Daily, was commissioned by the assistant district attorney and confirmed through forensic evidence that Baldwin (the attacker) broke into the window of John Knospler’s vehicle and attacked him.
- The state’s expert confirmed the window was punched out. Picture and medical evidence shows Baldwin’s knuckles and right arm were cut from the glass when Baldwin punched out the window. The state’s expert concluded glass dispersion inside the vehicle was consistent with the window being punched out. The ballistics investigation puts Baldwin bent over and inside the vehicle.
- The assistant district attorney refused to prosecute the case and left the district attorney’s office over the case. The assistant district attorney told the district attorney that the evidence proved self-defense and said he could not prosecute Knospler based on moral grounds and that he “would have probably done the same if in the same situation”
- The district attorney took over the case
- State’s expert John Daily’s reconstruction report was not used by the DA; instead a Wyoming firearms expert was brought in and asked hypothetical questions, and no reconstruction was completed. After the case, the same Wyoming firearms expert was fired for drug use.
- Local informants within Casper, Wyoming notified investigators that the establishment “Racks” is known around town for “roofying” people by putting a pill in their drink to knock them out and then robbing them
- There were inconsistencies with the testimony of the prosecution’s witnesses; multiple witnesses changed their story after meeting with the prosecutor. The bouncer, for example, claimed that he witnessed the entire incident, even though the bar’s cameras clearly disproved his testimony. Regardless, the false testimony was allowed as evidence.
- The same bouncer, as local informants report, ran a scheme with Baldwin to rob drunk patrons at the establishments where he worked.
- The DA claimed Baldwin was a good man, and was just out to drink. Baldwin, the night of the incident, was just out of jail and scheduled to be back in court and was facing more jail time for a drunken-driving charge just weeks prior.
- The former Casper chief of police, told the DA’s office that he was in the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command and called to gather information on John Knospler. The chief of police subsequently told the DA’s office that Knospler was a bad Marine and a troubled Marine. That could not be farther from the truth. No one at MARSOC that I have talked to, including the Marines that John served with and members of senior command, have reported receiving a call. When I told these Marines the police chief’s description, their response was … “it’s an out right lie,” “full of crap,” and “clearly this is someone reporting false information to make themselves seem more important.” The chief of police started the untrue narrative about John Knospler that had a huge butterfly effect.
- The same Casper chief of police lists publicly that he retired from the police department. A local newspaper reports that he was fired after receiving a vote of no confidence from his officers.
- There were MAJOR concerns about the case by some members of the trial jury. One of the concerns was the DA’s connection to the foreman of the jury.
Another concern among some jurors after the verdict was that the Baldwin’s criminal record was not allowed into the trial.
The DA has been quoted saying “No compelling evidence of an assaultive act by Baldwin was ever presented … Knospler still has a duty to retreat before using deadly force as long as he would not increase the risk to him — in other words, he could have just driven away.”
Maybe there was a reason the DA refused to use the report commissioned by his own office. The summary findings are stated here.
John needs our help. He has filed for an appeal to the Wyoming Supreme Court, but his appeal was denied and his options are running out. He has exhausted his life savings and is in need of financial support to continue this fight. His case received some coverage from the local media, but it has received little attention outside of Wyoming.
We need to generate awareness about John’s case and make it a widely known matter with national scale. With all of the ridiculous stories in the media, this one should be on everyone’s radar.
We need anyone with connections to media outlets and government officials, and those with legal expertise, to join us and shine a light on John’s story.
This is a clear example of injustice to a decorated combat veteran acting in self-defense. With your help, we can bring John home.
If you have time, please call or write Wyoming Governor Matt Mead (http://governor.wyo.gov/contact-us) and ask for a pardon or a commuting of John’s sentence.
Take a look at the link below to see evidence files:
Defense page: http://www.johnjr.knospler.com/webver2/index.html
PLEASE help by donating to the fund-me web page to help pay for legal fees:
Stephen Komorek is a director of law enforcement training, an international investigator who concentrates on special cases, and a security consultant. He lives in North Carolina.