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CO: Hunting guide pleads guilty to crime

Hunting guide pleads guilty to crime
Man illegally took wildlife in Four Corners

February 16, 2008
By Joe Hanel | Herald Denver Bureau

DENVER - A Utah hunting guide has pleaded guilty to illegally taking wildlife in the Four Corners, but his co-defendant, a Cortez taxidermist, is pressing on with his own defense.

Eric Leon Butt Jr., 34, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to sell illegally killed wildlife across state lines. He faces a maximum prison term of five years when he is sentenced May 27.

Butt of Herriman, Utah, and Paul Weyand of Cortez were indicted in August. Weyand faces seven charges of illegally labeling wildlife and selling it across state lines. He has pleaded not guilty.

Weyand owns the Memories on the Wall taxidermy shop on South Broadway in Cortez.

In exchange for pleading guilty, prosecutors dropped seven other charges against Butt. Testifying against Weyand was not part of his plea deal.

Prosecutors claim that from 2002 to 2005, Butt guided out-of-state clients on hunts in Southwest Colorado and encouraged them to shoot mule deer and black bears even though they didn't have licenses. Prosecutors allege Butt claimed the kills on his own license and sent his clients to Weyand to have the trophies mounted.

Earlier this month, Weyand asked District Judge Walker Miller to throw out a search warrant and statements he made to wildlife officers on several occasions in late 2005 and early 2006.

Officers from the Colorado Division of Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service questioned Weyand at his shop on several occasions when he was clearly a suspect in their investigation, according to Weyand's attorney, Kelly McCabe. However, McCabe wrote, the officers never told Weyand he had the right to remain silent, which is required when police detain a suspect. Weyand did not feel like he was free to leave during the interviews, McCabe wrote.

Half a dozen wildlife officers served a search warrant on Weyand's shop in March 2006, and McCabe wants the results of that search tossed out of court, too.

The officers carried away items that had nothing to do with the case, and they showed a "total and absolute failure to comply with any of the basic requirements of a search warrant," McCabe wrote.

Miller scheduled a March 25 hearing to consider Weyand's requests.

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