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Prosecutor Says Charges Unlikely in Hunting Accident

Monday, November 24, 2003 - AP

BERLIN, Vt. - It's unlikely charges will be filed against the hunter who fired a shot last year that hit and later killed a man who was relaxing in his home watching a football game, prosecutors say.

Ed Carroll, 59, was the victim of an implausible gunshot that law enforcement officials say might never be replicated.

"A freak, tragic accident," says Cpl. Jim Bell of the Berlin Police Department.

"A million to one," says Washington County State's Attorney Terry Trono. "At least."

Trono and Bell say they know who fired the Dec. 1 shot that killed Carroll as he lounged at home, watching the New York Giants play the Tennessee Titans. It was a hunter, shooting at a deer on the final day of the rifle season.

The hunter, stationed about three-quarters of a mile from Carroll's home, knew his shot missed the deer, but had no idea it would fly thousands of feet, twist in a stiff wind, pierce the side of Carroll's mobile home, deflect off a beam and hit Carroll's neck.

Trono said it was "highly unlikely" any charges would be filed against the Burlington area man who pulled the trigger. Trono would not release the name of the shooter.

The bizarre circumstances of Carroll's death leave Trono with few options.

"It would be next to impossible to show that a normal shot from a hunter, from this distance, was an extremely negligent act that was intended to cause injury or death," Trono says. "This is as pure an accident that could have happened."

The shot that killed Carroll, say police, was fired 1,100 or 1,200 yards from his house.

Berlin lawyer Brian Grearson, who represents Carroll's children, says he's exploring the possibility of bringing a civil lawsuit against the shooter. Some family members, on Grearson's advice, won't talk about Ed Carroll's death.

Trono learned the identity of the shooter after anonymous calls several days after the incident. He says charges could someday come down from his office if new information can prove the shooter acted recklessly, but the facts he has today support his decision to do nothing.

Joan Denno of Barre, one of Carroll's sisters, is ready to put the incident behind her.

"It's a tragedy, no doubt about it," she says. "I don't know the guy that did it; I don't where he's from or what he does. But I know that he has to live with it, and that has to be hard on him."

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