BILLINGS (AP) — State prosecutors have filed a negligent homicide charge against a 17-year-old Malta-area boy for the October 2010 shooting death of a 16-year-old hunting companion during a deer hunt northeast of Malta.
The charge was filed in Phillips County Youth Court on Jan. 15 by Assistant Attorney General Brant Light, nearly a year after the death of Logan Wilson was ruled an accident.
The charging documents allege the teen, who was 14 at the time of Wilson's death, acknowledged that he was looking through the rifle scope and saw Wilson just before he "got excited and pulled the trigger," The Billings Gazette reported Tuesday.
"Like, I was scopin' around and then like when Logan came into my scope I kind of put my, I took my eyes off the scope and then like, uh, I was kind of getting up like and I squeezed the trigger and then, like I don't know, I sat back down thinkin' what did I just do?" court records quote the teen as telling Sheriff Scott Moran in January 2011.
The other teen eventually told investigators that he was walking alongside Wilson when a shot was fired and Wilson fell to the ground.
In February 2012, Moran said Wilson's death was an accident, based on an "extensive and exhaustive" investigation by the state Division of Criminal Investigation. The Attorney General's office recommended that the two teens with Wilson when he was shot be charged with obstruction for lying to investigators. Those charges were handled informally through Youth Court, the Great Falls Tribune reported.
In May of last year, Dawn and Jerry Wilson filed a civil wrongful death lawsuit against their son's hunting companions.
Before filing the negligent homicide charge, prosecutors consulted with Rod Slings of Hunting and Shooting Related Consultants LLC, court records indicate.
He reviewed the case and determined the teen "acted in violation of the standards of safe gun handling" as taught by the state's Hunter Education program.
The teen is scheduled to be arraigned on Feb. 26.