WI: 3 accused of illegal hunting
June 24, 2009
Judge deals setback to prosecution in second deer-killing case
By Dan Wilson Post-Crescent staff writer
WAUPACA — A second judge in the Waupaca deer slaughter case gave the
prosecutor until Monday to either drop the felony mistreatment charges or
the misdemeanor illegal hunting charges against Rory Kuenzi, 24.
The decision comes on the heels of dismissed felony charges against a
Judge Philip Kirk, in what turned into a dressing down Wednesday of the
Assistant Dist. Atty. James Fassbender, was clearly irked at what he called
a “goat rodeo” in the myriad of charges filed against Kuenzi and his
two-co-defendants in a high-profile case that is showing signs of
“These charges are inconsistent,” Kirk said. “You have to decide what you
want to do.”
Kirk agreed with Public Defender Troy Nielsen’s argument that the state
“cannot have it both ways.”
Kuenzi, his brother Robby Kuenzi, 23, and Nicholas Hermes, 23, are
accused of running down and killing a group of deer with their snowmobiles
Jan. 9 in the Town of Lind. They also face a laundry list of state
Department of Natural Resources citations.
Kirk’s decision mirrors in many respects the decision reached by Judge
John Hoffmann, who is hearing the case against Robby Kuenzi. At a June 11
hearing, Hoffman dismissed the felony mistreatment charges against Robby
Kuenzi ruling they were incompatible with the companion hunting violations.
“And it is because of your charging decision,” Kirk said. “Overcharging
is the swine flu of the criminal justice system.”
Kuenzi is charged with six counts of felony mistreatment of an animal
causing death and six misdemeanor counts of hunting out of season. Under the
statutes, hunters cannot be charged with mistreatment of animals.
Kirk read the text of the misdemeanor hunting complaints out loud, noting
that they are identical to the animal cruelty complaints.
“So is this ‘venicide’ or really bad hunting?” Kirk asked. “What is it?”
Kirk also signaled he would be setting a high legal threshold if the
state chooses to pursue the animal cruelty charges.
“That does not necessarily mean that hunting is not a factual issue in
the underlying offenses,” said Kirk. “You get to decide how you want to
prosecute this case.”
Fassbender declined comment as he left the courtroom.
The three defendants all have different judges hearing their cases.
Hermes’ case is on hold while the legal issues in the other cases are
untangled. A status conference for Hermes in front of Judge Raymond Huber is
set for July 22.
The other two defendants were originally charged with nearly identical
charges as Rory Kuenzi -- five animal cruelty and hunting out of season
charges rather than six.
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