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MT: State Supreme Court affirms Hamilton poacher's conviction

State Supreme Court affirms Hamilton poacher's conviction

December 6, 2010

HAMILTON - The Montana Supreme Court recently affirmed the conviction of a Hamilton man found guilty in 2008 in a poaching case that spanned three years.

A Ravalli County jury convicted Kurt J. Norman, 44, of three felony counts of possession of illegally taken wildlife following a two-day trial in October 2008.

Norman lost his hunting, fishing and trapping privileges for life, as well as his rights to accompany anyone into the field. He was required to pay $24,200 in restitution for the eight animals illegally killed in the case.

Norman also received a suspended five-year term with the Montana Department of Corrections.

He appealed the conviction to the Montana Supreme Court, arguing that Ravalli County District Judge Jeffrey Langton improperly instructed the jury and that his attorney rendered ineffective counsel.

The Montana Supreme Court affirmed the District Court's decision in a ruling filed on Dec. 2.

Norman was charged in 2008 following a lengthy investigation by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks that started after wardens heard the man had illegally killed a trophy mule deer buck on private property between Skalkaho Highway and Sleeping Child Road.

Wardens executed a search warrant on Norman's home in Hamilton in May 2007 and seized photographs, computer records and trophy mounts.

Five other men pleaded guilty to various charges as a result of the investigation.

Testimony at the trial showed that Norman was involved with a number of animals illegally killed in 2003, 2004 and 2007, as either the shooter or as a person accompanying the shooter.

The deer were all killed in a hunting district set aside for trophy mule deer.

Located southeast of Hamilton, Hunting District 270 is highly regulated for the purpose of fostering a population of trophy mule deer bucks.

In 2007, there were only 100 permits issued for buck deer. Fifteen of those went to landowners. For the remaining 85 permits, the state received 5,820 applications.

Court records said Norman was never issued a permit to hunt in the district during the period that was investigated.

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