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OR: Teacher In Court On Manslaughter Charge

kptv.com

Teacher In Court On Manslaughter Charge
POSTED: 1:56 pm PST November 20, 2008
UPDATED: 5:50 pm PST November 20, 2008

STEVENSON, Wash. -- A teacher accused of shooting and killing a man while hunting told a fellow hunter that he fired his rifle at an elk, but missed, according to court documents.

Craig Sjoberg, a math teacher at Shahala Middle School, was arrested Tuesday at his home in Camas. He was jailed on a charge of manslaughter in the death of 30-year-old old Juan Rojas Cortez, of Tacoma, Wash.

Cortez was found dead of a gunshot wound in the Skookum Meadows area of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest on Nov. 1.

Sjoberg later told a hunter he fired at a three-point buck elk, but missed it, according to court documents. He drove away in his SUV and didn't return to meet another hunter as planned the next day, authorities said.

The Skamania County Sheriff's Office then said it was looking for a person of interest in Cortez's death. Two days later, Sjoberg left a voice mail at the sheriff's office in which he said, "I might be the person that you're thinking about in that shooting incident."

Sjoberg asked a sergeant to call him back after school, but Sjoberg never returned the sergeant's calls, the documents said.

Detectives said they searched Sjoberg's Camas home, where they took a rifle and a hunter orange backpack. According to the documents, Washington State Patrol ballistic testing later showed a bullet recovered from Rojas' body was fired from a gun of the same classification as the rifle taken from Sjoberg's home.

Sjoberg has been placed on paid administrative leave at Shahala Middle School where he has been a teacher since 2002. He made his first court appearance Thursday.

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