MN: Hunter accused of illegally killing a world-class whitetail deer
January 21, 2010
Goodhue County / Hunter pleads not guilty to three more charges Trophy
buck taken out of season
Troy Alan Reinke, the Cannon Falls man accused of illegally killing a
world-class whitetail deer on Halloween night, pleaded not guilty Thursday
to three additional counts in the case.
Appearing before Goodhue County District Judge Thomas Bibus, Reinke also
asked, through his court-appointed attorney, to have his hunting jacket
tested for gunpowder residue to help prove he did not shoot the deer with a
Bibus agreed to the test, which could be paid for with state money under
state guidelines, said Reinke's court-appointed attorney, Tim Dillon. Dillon
said Reinke did not have the money to pay for the test.
Bibus set a pretrial hearing for March 18.
Reinke, 32, is charged with 16 counts of illegally taking and possessing
whitetail deer last fall, including shooting a small buck and a doe. He
possessed an archery license to shoot only one buck or doe.
He is accused of illegally killing and possessing a trophy whitetail buck
that had the highest-scoring eight-point antlers ever measured by Pope and
Young or Boone and Crockett, two groups that maintain trophy records.
In December, he pleaded not guilty to the original 13 charges.
Prosecutors say Reinke told Department of Natural Resources investigators
he shot the small buck and doe in early October with a bow and failed to tag
or register them. He claimed to have shot the trophy buck with a bow on
Halloween but later changed his story, saying that he found the deer already
Investigators say the deer's hide possessed entry and exit gunshot
wounds. They say neighbors living near where Reinke said he found the buck
heard a gunshot about 8 p.m. on Halloween.
Assistant county prosecutor David Grove said it might be difficult to
prove Reinke shot the deer because there are no witnesses. He dismissed the
powder testing on Reinke's jacket as providing proof that he didn't shoot
the deer, because the jacket could have been cleaned or may not have been
worn on the night of the alleged shooting.
Reinke was charged Wednesday with an additional gross misdemeanor count
of "taking and possessing" a big-game animal out of season. The firearms
hunting season was closed when Reinke allegedly killed the deer. The other
two new charges are unlawful possession of a wild animal.
"It doesn't matter whether he shot the deer or not," Grove said. "The key
is it was unlawful for him to possess the deer (out of season)."
Grove said investigators recently subpoenaed Reinke's cell phone records
to find supporting evidence that Reinke shot the deer, but no new
information came from the records.
Grove said if a jury convicts Reinke of the most serious charges, he
could serve a year in jail. His hunting privileges could also be revoked for
three years, and he could be fined thousands of dollars.
In addition, another year of jail could be added because Reinke violated
terms of his probation, Grove said.
Reinke declined to talk to reporters after the hearing.
The case has attracted national attention because of the size of the
trophy buck's antlers.
Avid hunters Vern Bissonette and his son, Ray, traveled from Bloomington
on Thursday morning to witness the hearing. They said they have no stake in
the case, other than wanting to make sure justice is served.
"This isn't about meat," said Ray, 49, a bridge construction supervisor.
"It's about ethics and sport. If he's found guilty, I think his hunting
privileges should be taken away."
Among the misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor charges against Reinke are
illegally transporting big game, gross over-limits of wild animals, failure
to validate a deer license, failure to register a deer, possessing untagged
big game animals, taking deer over the limit and taking deer without a
license. There are multiple counts of each charge to take all three deer
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