State Attorney honors PCSO Detective Tonya Wright

In keeping with the tradition set by State Attorney Brian Haas last year, three law enforcement officers were honored at our annual awards ceremony. These exceptional officers were recognized because they have gone above and beyond the call of duty to serve our community this past year.

“We are blessed in the tenth circuit to have many wonderful officers and deputies. Each day and night they put on their uniforms to protect us, not knowing if they’ll ever return home,” State Attorney Haas said. “They investigate cases and do not give up until every lead is pursued and every angle is worked.”

Polk County Sheriff’s Office Detective Tonya Wright was honored for her work on the Lenard Masten case.

Polk County Sheriff’s Office Detective Tonya Wright was honored for her work on the Lenard Masten case. At gunpoint, Masten stole $1,000 from an elderly couple and their son, attempted to destroy their cellphones, and forced them into a small closet. Masten was found guilty of three counts of robbery with a firearm, armed kidnapping, two counts of armed false imprisonment, burglary of a dwelling with an assault while armed with a firearm, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and tampering with a witness and was sentenced to life.

When Bimalkumar Trivedi went home to his elderly parents, Lenard Masten placed a gun against his head and forced his way into their home.

Trivedi’s parents were at the table eating dinner, and Masten took their phones and placed them in the sink under running water. He told Trivedi he needed money while leading him into another room at gunpoint, so Trivedi gave Masten $1,000.

Masten then decided to escort Trivedi and his parents at gunpoint to a closet and force them to lay down. After realizing he may be leaving fingerprints in the residence, Masten picked up a pair of dirty socks and placed them on his hands like gloves.

When Trivedi and his parents wouldn’t all fit in the closet, Masten led them to the garage and then to the bathroom, where he forced them to stand in the shower with the water on as he left the residence. After waiting until he was sure Masten was gone, Trivedi retrieved his phone from the sink – which was still working – and called 911.

Assistant State Attorney Michael Nutter said Detective Tonya Wright did a solid investigation.

Witnesses saw a suspicious Buick near Trivedi’s home the night of the robbery, so Wright used DAVID to pull all registered owners of older model Buicks in Polk County. One of those owners was Masten, who was on probation for robbery.

Wright went to Masten’s job and located the Buick with the damage witnesses saw and items hanging from the rearview matching the witness descriptions.   Wright searched the vehicle, where she found clothing matching the description of the robber and a white athletic sock, which he took from hamper of the house to use as gloves.

Wright pulled Google location history on Masten’s cell phone, which showed that a few weeks before the robbery, Masten followed Trivedi from his business to his home.

Through her questioning of Masten, he confessed.

Nutter said Wright spent a lot of time working with Masten and confronting him with all the evidence before he finally broke down and admitted what he did.

“Without that confession, we would not have been able to prove case,” Nutter said. The victim could not ID the defendant.  And although DNA and fingerprints were taken, nothing of forensic value came back. With the exception of the confession, it was 100 percent a circumstantial case.”

Masten, 26, was found guilty on March 17 of three counts of robbery with a firearm, armed kidnapping, two counts of armed false imprisonment, burglary of a dwelling with an assault while armed with a firearm, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and tampering with a witness. He was previously convicted of aggravated assault and robbery, which he was on probation for when he was arrested June 26, 2015.

Masten was sentenced to life in prison.

State Attorney Brian Haas said this case is a great example of hard work and dedication by a determined law enforcement officer.  It’s because of Detective Tonya Wright that a dangerous felon is now locked up for life.

“Handling big cases is not a rare occurrence for Detective Wright,” Haas said.  “She handles a lot of them, and each time, she approaches the case with the high level of work we have come to know her by.”