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Hunting Death was Homicide

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, CO (AP) - Last month's shooting death of a Wisconsin hunter near Steamboat Springs has been ruled a homicide.

Routt County Coroner Dwight Murphy said Tuesday he reached his decision about the Sept. 20 death of Gerald Holverson, 44, with the help of witness accounts and the Routt County Sheriff's Office.

When a death is ruled a homicide, it does not specify whether it is murder, manslaughter, criminal negligence or recklessly causing the death of another, Murphy said.

"From all the factors involved, I don't think I can call this an accident, but that doesn't mean it's (first-degree) murder," he said.

Assistant District Attorney Kerry St. James said he was unsure whether he will file any charges.

The coroner has said Holverson, of South Wayne, Wis., was shot by a friend who mistook him for an elk. He was shot below the right shoulder with a .54-caliber black-powder rifle, authorities said.

The autopsy report did not indicate how far away the shooter was from Holverson, who had been hunting with a group of six people from Wisconsin and Illinois for about a week. Murphy said no alcohol or drugs were found in the body.

The only piece of orange clothing Holverson was wearing was a faded orange hat. Colorado law does not require bowhunters to wear orange.

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