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AIM HIGHER, FIX LAW

03/04/2005

For shooting a pregnant woman as she sat in a car at her house after returning from a baby shower, Craig T. Wetzell of Lehigh County was sentenced Wednesday to six months of probation and fined $2,700.

Oh, yes. Mr. Wetzell, who was not charged with serious crimes because he was in the act of hunting when he fired into a residential neighborhood, will be denied a hunting license for between five and 10 years. That'll show him.

Lehigh County prosecutors chose to charge Mr. Wetzel with hunting violations rather than serious crimes, claiming that he was careless but that his conduct did not rise to the level of a crime.

Meanwhile, Casey Burns, 18, the shooting victim, is left to deal with a $137,000 hospital bill while raising a healthy girl who was born last month.

Mr. Wetzell did not respond to Ms. Burns' request for an apology after he received his slap on the wrist Wednesday. That's his right, but the state Legislature should not be so silent about this aberration of justice. Lawmakers should see that firing a rifle toward a neighborhood, even while engaged in the apparently sacred act of hunting, is a criminal offense carrying serious penalties. Hunters should be accountable for wildly errant shots. As it now stands, Ms. Burns has to pay the penalty for being in the way of Mr. Wetzell's state-sanctioned bullet.

 

İScranton Times Tribune 2005


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