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NH - Belmont man gets heavy sentence in hunting accident

Belmont man gets heavy sentence in hunting accident

A Belmont man who accidentally shot another turkey hunter and then failed to render medical aid has begun serving a one-year jail sentence in jail and was stripped of his right to hunt for life and ordered to pay $30,000 to reimburse the victim for his medical costs.

The hunter was indicted on the Class B felony charge of abandoning a wounded human being in August 2007.
Investigators said that he shot the victim with a 12-gauge shotgun in the woods off Meredith Center Road in Laconia in May 2007. Pellets from the blast struck the victim in the face, neck and chest. The hunter pleaded guilty to failing to immediately report the incident to police or conservation officers. He was initially also charged with shooting a human being while hunting, a misdemeanor, and reckless conduct, a Class B felony.

The incident took place in Laconia on the opening day of the 2007 hunting season in the Huston-Morgan State Forest, located off Meredith Center Road just east of Daisy Gardner Road.

The hunter mistook a decoy for a live turkey and shot the victim, a 15-year-old Inter-Lakes High School student who was hunting with his older brother.

At the time of the accident, New Hampshire Fish & Game authorities said the brothers, both wearing camouflage, placed a turkey decoy on the ground, took up a stationary position and began calling to lure turkeys into shooting range.

The hunter was walking through the woods looking for turkeys a practice known as "stalking," that safety experts discourage the department said. The Belmont man is said to have fired in the direction of the brothers and their decoy, hitting the teenager.

Judge Larry Smukler, sitting in Belknap County Superior Court, sentenced the hunter on Monday to 12 months in the House of Corrections commencing Tuesday. The court recommended to county correctional authorities that he be eligible for immediate work release consistent with administrative regulations. The defendant was additionally ordered to pay $30,000 in restitution for medical costs plus 17 percent statutory administrative fee through the New Hampshire Department of Corrections.

The defendant must also participate meaningfully and complete any counseling, treatment or educational programs as recommended by correctional authorities.

At the request of the defendant or the Department of Corrections, a hearing may be scheduled on the amount or method of payment of additional restitution. The defendant was additionally ordered to remain on good behavior, comply with all terms of the sentence and to have no contact with the victim or his family.

Public Defender Howard Clayman represented Keniston.

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