CLAY CENTER, Kan. - A poacher accused of sneaking up and stabbing a
farmer who stumbled across the pickup truck of the illegal hunting
party has pleaded not guilty to attempted first-degree murder.
Gene Bitler, 49, of Council Grove, remained jailed in Clay County
on $750,000 bond after entering the plea Tuesday. His trial is
scheduled to start April 5.
The farmer, Marvin Macy, 67, was so badly wounded in the November
attack that he had to hold his intestines in as he stumbled to a grain
truck parked a half-mile away, Clay County Attorney Rick James said.
He then drove the truck to his home and began honking to get the
attention of his wife, a nurse.
James said Macy had reported his poaching suspicions to the game
warden even before he came across the pickup truck, with Bitler's
18-year-old son inside.
James said Bitler, who had been out in the field with his
15-year-old son cutting the head off a trophy buck, snuck up on Macy
on his hands and knees. In the ensuing attack, Bitler slugged Macy and
stabbed him three times with a hunting knife, James said.
"He was sliced once across the face, once across the lower abdomen,
and he has a puncture wound in the back, across the kidney," James
Macy was flown to Wesley Medical Center in Wichita.
"Several times he said he just wanted to lay down (when he was
walking to the truck)," James said. "He left a big, wide blood trail
down the middle of the road. He said he was afraid he'd never get up."
Bitler was arrested after authorities discovered Macy had reversed
two numbers when he wrote down the license plate number of the pickup
before the attack. Two farmers later identified Bitler as the man they
had seen before the attack.