Why is it so hard for people to just follow the rules.http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2010/oct/26/grand-jury-next-man-accused-illegally-killing-one/
Trophy deer head brought to court as hunter charged with illegal killing
By Bryan Brasher
Originally published 12:10 p.m., October 26, 2010
Updated 11:02 p.m., October 26, 2010
SOMERVILLE, Tenn. — It's not every day that the frozen head of a whitetail deer is brought into the General Sessions courtroom of the Fayette County Justice Center.
But it happened Tuesday morning as Ricky Williams of Mason, Tenn., faced Judge Mike Whitaker on charges of illegally killing one of the largest deer ever taken in Tennessee.
The head of the gigantic Fayette County buck, which was partially covered with a black plastic garbage bag, scored 204 points on the national Boone & Crockett antler scoring system. If it had been taken legally, it would have qualified for ninth on the state's all-time harvest list.
Williams, who is charged with hunting over a baited area, hunting without a license and illegal possession of a firearm during the archery season, could not reach a plea agreement; his case now goes to a grand jury.
The deer's head and 24-point antler rack were brought to the courtroom at the request of Whitaker, who admonished Williams from the bench.
"Hunting over a baited field is one of the most offensive violations a hunter can commit," said Whitaker, referring to the illegal practice of using corn to lure wild game repeatedly to the same area.
Matthew Armour, Williams' attorney, began the proceedings by telling Whitaker of a proposed plea agreement between his client and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. But it proved a tough sell with the animal's head just a few feet away.
Under the proposed agreement, Williams would have pleaded guilty to hunting in a baited area and possession of a firearm during the archery deer season. The charge of hunting without a license would have been dismissed.
He would have paid $1,000 restitution while forfeiting his firearm and various other hunting accessories to the state. He also would have lost his hunting privileges for two years.
Armour argued that the plea agreement was fair because there has been no allegation that Williams used the illegal firearm to kill the deer. He said it was killed with a crossbow, a weapon that has been legal during Tennessee's archery deer season for several years.
Whitaker was not satisfied with the terms of the agreement.
"I would not accept an agreement without at least a five-year suspension of hunting privileges," Whitaker said.
Williams left the courtroom to speak with his attorney after hearing Whitaker's decision on the proposal and returned 30 minutes later, asking that the case be bound over to a grand jury.
A handful of Tennessee conservation officers were present, including Bubba Spencer, Ty Inmon and Ray McMillen, who carried the deer's head and antler rack into the courtroom.
They agreed that such an impressive deer deserved a better ending.
"Whatever happens, it's really a shame that a deer like this had to be killed illegally," Spencer said.
The deer's head created a buzz in the courtroom, and several people asked the officers to stop for pictures as they carried it out.
Inmon, who has helped make numerous high-profile cases against Fayette County game violators during the past year, said the deer had great potential if it had lived another season or two.
"This is just a 31/2 -year-old deer, and most people will tell you they don't reach their potential until they're 51/2 years old," Inmon said. "It could have been a state record two years from now or even next year. It's a shame to see it go down this way."
— Bryan Brasher: 529-2343