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WI: Hunter exempt from animal cruelty charges

Judge dismisses deer cruelty charges
Rory Kuenzi still faces lessor hunting charges

Monday, 29 Jun 2009

WAUPACA - Hours after prosecutors declined to dismiss any charges against Rory Kuenzi, Waupaca County Judge Philip Kirk issued an order dismissing felony animal cruelty charges.

Kuenzi is one of three men charged in Waupaca County with allegedly running down deer on snowmobiles, killing them last winter.

The ruling Monday reflects a similar decision in a co-defendent's case.

The animal cruelty charges against Robby Kuenzi - Rory's brother - were dismissed several weeks ago after his attorney successfully argued that state law prohibits cruelty charges against those who are hunting. The judge ruled since prosecutors filed several misdemeanor and ordinance violations, alleging such crimes as hunting without a license and hunting during a closed season, that the animal cruelty charges be dismissed.

The county has asked the Attorney General's office to appeal the decision in Robby Kuenzi's case. A spokesman said Monday no decision about an appeal had been made.

Rory Kuenzi's attorney then made the same arguments, but to a different judge. Last week, Judge Philip Kirk gave the Waupaca County District Attorney's office until today to make a decision. But in a letter to the judge filed this morning, Asst. D.A. Jim Fassbender said he stands by his original charging decision and would not dismiss any counts.

Fassbender declined to comment further.

Early Monday afternoon, Judge Kirk followed through on comments he made in court last week and dismissed the felony animal cruelty charges.

Each of the six animal cruelty counts carried a maximum penalty of 3 years, 6 months in prison, if convicted. The misdemeanor offenses could result in jail time and ordinance violations can only result in fines.

A third man, Nicholas Hermes, faces a similar set of charges. He returns to court July 22.

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