SOUTH PARIS, Maine (AP) — A hunter charged with killing a woman he mistook for a deer pleaded guilty to manslaughter Tuesday under an agreement in which he was ordered to serve nine months in jail.
Family members of the victim said the plea deal was too lenient and noted that the hunter, Robert Trundy, 40, of Hebron, didn’t check on the victim after hearing her scream.
The 34-year-old victim, Karen Wrentzel, was digging for gemstones on her property when she was shot on the first day of deer hunting season for Maine residents in 2017. She died at the scene.
Trundy told game wardens he thought he was firing at a deer but acknowledged he never saw the outline of a deer. He fired from 200 feet (61 meters) away, wardens said.
Under the plea deal, the judge imposed a seven-year prison sentence for manslaughter but suspended most of it. A separate felony charge of failure to render aid was dropped.
Trundy said he was unable to assist when he realized he’d shot someone and called his hunting partner, his 72-year-old father, to report his actions.
On Tuesday, Trundy addressed the victim while apologizing in court, the Bangor Daily News reported. “I lost my soul that day, and you lost your life. You are with me when I wake up in the morning and when I go to sleep at night,” Trundy said.
The hunting death was reminiscent of a similar case in 1988 when Karen Wood was shot outside her home in Hermon. The hunter, Donald Rogerson, of Bangor, said he thought the white mittens she was wearing looked like the underside of a deer’s tail. Rogerson was acquitted.
Wrentzel was a Maine river guide and outdoor enthusiast.
On the day of her death, she had a long chat with her grandmother, Beverly Spofford, before heading out to dig for gemstones. She hadn’t been gone for long when Spofford heard a gunshot.
Spofford told WGME-TV before the court hearing that her granddaughter would still be alive if the hunters had sought permission to hunt on the property. The land is now posted with “access by permission” notices. “It didn’t have to happen,” Spofford said.
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