Hunter won’t take plea bargain | SteamboatToday.com
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Hunter won’t take plea bargain

Christine Metz

The 44-year-old Wisconsin man charged with criminally negligent homicide turned down his last chance to accept a plea offer Friday, sending the case to trial.

Douglas Jones of South Wayne, Wis., who has been charged for the hunting death of lifelong friend Gerald Holverson, appeared in District Court for a pre-trial conference Friday.

The District Attorney’s Office alleges that Jones mistook Holverson for an elk in the early morning of Sept. 20 and shot him with a muzzleloader.

In May, District Judge Michael O’Hara set the trial for Sept. 13. The pre-trial conference was the last chance Jones could have accepted a plea offer from the District Attorney’s Office.

In court Friday, the judge changed the trial from four to three days after Assistant District Attorney Kerry St. James and Jones’ attorney, Sherman Romney, agreed it would take less time than four days.

St. James said he planned to call fewer than 10 witnesses and expected to be finished by noon on the second day.

Jones agreed to forgo his right to a speedy trial so three other hunters from Wisconsin could testify in court without being subpoenaed. If a jury convicts Jones, he could be sentenced to pay for the cost of travel for all subpoenaed witnesses.

Jones said the witnesses not subpoenaed and coming from Wisconsin are his friends and neighbors.

“I am sure they will all be here,” he said.

The two attorneys also discussed whether a press release from the Routt County Coroner’s Office should be presented to the jury. The press release was written shortly after Holverson died and stated that the incident was being investigated as an accidental shooting.

On Sept. 20, Holverson, also 44 of South Wayne, Wis., died from a black powder gunshot wound during a weeklong hunting trip in South Routt.

Jones and Holverson were part of a six-person hunting party on Bureau of Land Management Land about one mile west of Waller Reservoir in the King Mountain area of South Routt.

Jones told investigators he heard a noise in the brush and said he saw an elk with maybe six points, a DA’s report states. But what Jones fired at on that dim and foggy early morning was Holverson, who’s only distinguishing clothing was an orange hat.

Holverson died from a lacerated right lung and heart, the Routt County coroner’s report stated.

More than three months after the shooting, the DA’s Office filed charges against Jones for criminally negligent homicide. He was issued a felony summons in January and was asked to appear in Routt County Court on Feb. 17.

Romney had requested that Jones’ first appearance be postponed for six weeks so the defendant and DA’s Office could work out a plea agreement. Routt County Court Judge James Garrecht postponed that hearing until March 23.

During the March 23 appearance, Romney said his client was not willing to accept the DA’s offer and planned to take the case to trial. Romney would not say what the plea offer was.

— To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com


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