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MT: Darby suspect faces charges of poaching, intimidating teenaged witness

Darby suspect faces charges of poaching, intimidating teenaged witness

December 27, 2010

HAMILTON - A 58-year-old Darby man faces poaching and intimidation charges for allegedly killing a trophy mule deer and then yelling at a high school student for reporting him.

James E. Robinson appeared Monday before Ravalli County Justice James Bailey on felony counts of unlawful possession of a game animal and intimidation. He also faces misdemeanor charges of hunting a game animal without a license and transferring a general deer license.

Robinson allegedly killed the buck deer in Hunting District 270 on Oct. 29.

Deer hunters are required to have a special license in that hunting district. In 2009, more than 5,000 people applied for the 45 permits issued by the state for that area.

Robinson told a high school volunteer at a state game checkpoint that the buck deer his hunting party possessed had been harvested in an adjoining district, charging documents said.

The high school girl working the station became suspicious because she knew it was impossible to get to the Big Hole from Rye Creek Road.

Robinson apparently replied that he was told by a high school girl at the check station a day earlier that it was possible and had been given directions on how to get there.

The only underage girl working at the check station the day before was the same volunteer who challenged him.

FWP Warden Lou Royce was dispatched to the home of Debbie Muller, a member of Robinson's hunting party.

Court records said Muller initially told Royce she killed the buck, but later indicated that Robinson had done the shooting.

A few days later, "a very angry" Robinson allegedly accosted the high school girl in an attempt to get her to change her story.

The mule deer's antlers measured 167 5/8 points on the Boone and Crockett scale. Antlers measuring 160 are considered in the trophy class.

Court records said Robinson has been convicted of wildlife crimes in Washington and Oregon, as well as felony convictions for "minor/immoral purposes" and manufacture, distribution, possession of dangerous drugs in Washington state.

Bailey set bail at $5,000.

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