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Hunting Accident File > Safe Hunting?: > 2004

JURY ACQUITS MAN CHARGED IN FRIEND'S HUNTING DEATH

By GM Today Staff August 20, 2004

A man charged in the hunting death of a friend was found not guilty of second-degree reckless homicide Thursday.

Mark Weber, 42, of Adell had been charged in the death last Nov. 23 of William Mundt, 33, of West Bend.

Mundt was shot in the abdomen while walking across a town of Scott field toward his hunting party.

Weber testified during his jury trial in Sheboygan County Circuit Court that he saw a brown object in the field and fired, thinking it was a deer.

Mundt was shot in the lower abdomen as he was walking away from his deer stand in the town of Scott, according to a sheriff's department spokesman, and died some hours later in a Milwaukee hospital.

Weber faced a maximum prison sentence of 30 years and a $100,000 fine if he was convicted, according to a district attorney's office spokesperson.

The sequence of events leading to the charges being filed were these:

Mundt, who was hunting alone, had apparently left his tree stand and was walking across a field near the intersection of Highway S and Trout Springs Road towards his vehicle at approximately 4:58 p.m., according to Capt. Dave Adams of the Sheboygan County Sheriff's Department.

In the interim, a group of four other hunters in Mundt's party - including Weber - had driven a pickup truck into that field to field dress a deer one of them had just shot. The group was using the headlights of the truck to assist them when one in the party said he saw "eyes in the field," Adams said.

Weber then allegedly reloaded a round in his shotgun, Adams said, and fired a round in that direction, striking Mundt.

Hunting hours in that zone, Adams said, end at 4:40 p.m., almost 20 minutes prior to the fatal shot being fired.

"Hunting hours were over," Adams said.

Although Mundt's family would not comment on the juries findings, the family plans on filing a wrongful death lawsuit against Weber. Janet Mundt, the victim's sister, said earlier that Weber was "William's best friend." The land where the incident occurred is owned by Weber, she said.

At the time, she called the series of events leading up to the shooting a "tragic mistake."

"William made a mistake by taking off his orange coat, and (Weber) made a mistake by not identifying what he was shooting at," she said.

"He's going to have to live with this for the rest of his life," she said.

Sheboygan County District Attorney Joe DeCecco said he and the investigators pondered long and hard before making the decision, however, the weight of Weber's alleged negligence was too great to ignore.

"Where is it written that all hunting accidents have to be labeled as accidents?" he said. "This was such a clear, basic hunting violation that resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Mundt. It was absolutely unnecessary."

DeCecco said the verdict was "very disappointing."

One juror, Peter Nyenhuis, said the prosecution was unable to prove that Weber's actions were reckless.

"There wasn't enough evidence to prove he was aware of the risks," he said.

''It was a tremendous loss. It was his best friend,'' said defense lawyer Richard Wells. ''There are no winners here.''

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