Lynda Carter – TLC ’10 Grad
I have to relay this here as it has been the most fun I have had in trial to date. This case was referred to me by Jerry Bosch from Wyoming. My client was charged with three aggravated wildlife charges stemming from shooting a mule deer buck that was trophy size and shooting it on property he did not have permission to hunt on. He was also charged with criminal trespass for going onto the landowners property where the deer was wounded without getting permission from the landowner.
The ADA was supposed to wrap her case up on Thursday at 2:30 but she did not get done until Friday at 2:45. I have to admit I was really angry because this was scheduled for one day not three, and Monday was a holiday. My client drove in from Washington and could not stay until Tuesday. I started my case at 2:45, went through my client and my expert. My expert is a retired Tampa police homicide detective who testified about blood splatter, ballistics, crime scene investigation, bullet wounds and police protocol. Because he is an outfitter and guide in Colorado, he also testified about protocol and prey animal instincts.
The jury got the case at 4:50 yesterday and we had a verdict at 5:45. Not guilty on all wildlife charges and guilty on a misd. trespass to which the judge sentenced him to pay a $100.00 fine. Oh, he got to keep his trophy mule buck that DOW had taken on Halloween, 2010. I will now be filing a motion to reimburse him for the value of the meat that DOW carved up and donated, but did not say to what “charity”. It is presumed to be a DOW officer as they were vague on where it went.
Essentially, DOW insisted my client shot the deer on land he was not supposed to hunt on. It was alleged that he came from sea level, climbed up a hill at 7000 ft. shot at a deer from a prone position, missed, ran 15 yds. proned out again, shot, missed, got up, again proned out and hit the buck, from 450 yards away with a rifle zeroed in at 200 yds in the kill zone.
They also testified that the entire investigation was done using the fact that my client was right handed, used a right handed rifle, and the shells were ejected from a place that showed he had to be shooting towards the deer already on the neighboring property. DOW also stated that the deer’s wounds showed too much damage to move very far.
Using a soft cross on the primary and then secondary officers, I was able to show that the picture of the deer showed scrapes on its leg showing he had jumped the fence, had a barb wire puncture from the fence, and the primary officer testified that only if my client was shooting left handed could his story be true. I pulled out a picture of my client sighting in his rifle last year. It is a special ordered Weatherby rifle, ordered with a Leopold Scope with a left handed bolt action for my left handed client.
The officer also admitted that he qualifies twice a year with his service rifle, essentially the same caliber as my client, that he lived at 7000 ft. and after steadying his hand on a fence post, and taking aim at a wounded deer laying down 25 yds. away he missed two out of three times. This was priceless. There was also only one exit wound so the damage had been done mainly from the DOW officer, not my client.
My favorite part was that the primary officer tried to convince the jury that a deer can’t jump a 4 ft. high fence with a damaged front leg. I did not bring a picture of a deer jumping a fence and I wanted to show the relationship of the back legs and how powerful they were compared to the front legs. It dawned on me that I always keep the card from the Ranch showing the deer jumping over the fence in my briefcase. I begged the Court’s indulgence and asked permission from the DA to use it to help the jury, the officer, and even the DA. She agreed and the judge asked to see it.
The judge asked me about the picture and I told her what it was a picture of. She let me use it with the understanding that I could only show the officer and the jury the front of the card and not open the inside which of course had the picture at graduation of Gerry and me. She made me get copies of the front of the card at lunch and enter the copies into evidence instead of the card.
After the jury got the case, she (the judge) called me up and made me show her the card. She is a big TLC and Gerry Spence fan. she also recognized the ranch because her family has raised Simmetals here in Colorado, and she knew the ranch sign.
Another TLC thing I used was non-verbal communication with the jury pool and awareness of the jury. The ADA left a man on the jury that had elk antlers tattooed all down his arms, and another one that had an “In loving memory of” under a deer head tattooted on his neck. She also left a woman with a Master’s in forensics and retired Air Force Capt. (Crime scene investigator) from MacDill AFB in Tampa on the jury. I was handed a gift like no other.
Sorry for the long post but I had so much fun and this trial took so many twists and turns and you just could not make this stuff up! On my way out of the courtroom after closing arguments, I had three people in the audience come up and say they were so glad I had taken this to trial. I guess DOW has been in conflict with some of the smaller outfitters around there. While my client still had to pay a $100.00 fine, he was facing 2 yrs in jail, loss of his hunting privileges for life in 30 states with reciprocity with Colorado, and almost $16,000.00 in fines.
Best of all, the judge invited me back to her courtroom and said she hoped I took more cases there. That was the best compliment I could have gotten other than the audience’s reaction to my closing argument.
Thanks to everyone who has helped me and taught me along the way. I owe each victory to everything I have learned from so many people and one day hope to be able to pass along knowledge to other new Warriors! Have a blessed day!
Your Fellow Warrior TLC Grad Lynda Carter 2010