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Elk hunter skier killing case to be appealed

Elk hunter skier killing case to be appealed

Published: 31 Dec 2011 11:35 GMT+01:00
Updated: 31 Dec 2011 11:35 GMT+01:00

The incident took place outside of Ljungby in southern Sweden when the hunter accidentally killed a 71-year-old skier with a single shot that went through the elk.

The hunter was found not guilty of manslaughter, but prosecutor Marcus Sjöstrand will now take the case to the court of appeals.

"I claim that she's been negligent and should be convicted of involuntary manslaughter," Sjöstrand told news agency TT.

A court ruled on Thursday the 32-year-old woman was innocent of all criminal charges, but it was not a unanimous decision.

The court chairman, Åke Belfrage, claimed the woman was guilty as charged, but the other three judges voted not to convict the woman.

Sjöstrand told Sveriges Radio (SR) that it's important to try this case in the court of appeals, and that he believes in a conviction at that level.

Torgny Eklund, who represented the relatives of the deceased, didn't want to comment on their reactions following the verdict.

"We will go through this verdict step by step when it has sunk in a little," Eklund told the Sveriges Radio.

"We are between Christmas and New Year's Eve, so there are some other things to deal with as well."

The 32-year-old hunter had held her license for six years when her first elk was felled in December 2010 with a single shot.

But just 60 metres beyond the felled beast lay a 71-year-old cross-country skier in the snow.

The bullet which killed the elk had contined, hitting the skier and killing him instantly.

Joel Linde (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

13:00 December 31, 2011 by johan rebel
Three cheers for the prosecutor!

It should be glaringly obvious to any sane person over the age of four that anybody who discharges a firearm is responsible for the consequences. If you shoot somebody dead by mistake, then you are guilty of involuntary manslaughter, at the very least. You can't just say "sorry, I didn't mean to" and walk away.

The three nämdemän who voted for acquittal must be complete nitwits and should be relieved of their duties.
13:33 December 31, 2011 by engagebrain
the bullet appears to have gone in a straght line and I assume the skier was on a known trail. it also seems well established that bullets pass through animals.

thats negligence.
13:51 December 31, 2011 by SimonDMontfort
Absolutely.

If you're going round bumping off the animal life with a lethal weapon I'd have thought the onus is on you to exercise responsibility and judgment at all times
14:33 December 31, 2011 by gabeltoon
If a person is going to own a deadly weapon then they are totally responsible for it's use and for the outcome of it's use. I feel sorry for everyone involved in this case.
14:38 December 31, 2011 by Roy E
And the point of this is what? Punishing this woman further accomplishes just what exactly? She has already been punished enough - the process itself is punishment enough for this tragic accident.

Given the lack of any malice on the woman's part, This appeal now appears to be far more about the prosecutor's ego and vanity than anything else. This case is now moving into harassment territory.
15:25 December 31, 2011 by Reason abd Realism
@ Roy E

Involuntary manslaughter already implies that there was no malice on her part.

Legal convictions in Sweden are often accompanied by a (pathetically small) financial settlement which would help the family of the victim, even though it will never replace their loss.

Shell did not intend for their deep sea drilling platform to explode last year, but that does not absolve them of responsibility for the consequences of that explosion.
16:35 December 31, 2011 by Roy E
@Reason abd Realism

So I'll ask again, Just what is it that you hope to achieve with this double jeopardy prosecution?
17:12 December 31, 2011 by Reason abd Realism
@ Roy E

As a cross country skiier, I want all hunters to be as aware as possible of their surroundings before they pull the trigger. A big case that is trivially dismissed by 'I'm sorry, it was an accident', does not make Sweden a safer place to for all of us to enjoy the outdoors in the future.

If the skiier had been hidden behind a dense wall of foliage then the hunter would probably never even have found the victim, so it would appear that the hunter had a reasonable chance to see the vicitm as he approached, so there appears to be valid grounds for a charge of negligence, which would be consistent with the prosecutor's decision to appeal, and with the split decision by the judges in this first ruling.

Obviously the hunter has been unlucky here, but the skiier could have lived another 20 years, so his death is far more tragic than the hunter's situation (which will only amount to a few months in jail and a fine, at worst, if an involuntary manslaughter charge holds up on appeal).
17:29 December 31, 2011 by Roy E
I think you may be trivializing a bit yourself with the 'I'm sorry, it was an accident'. To assume that person is a hunter and therefore because they are a hunter they have no conscience is completely misguided. In my experience I find quite the opposite ethos to be true amongst outdoors-oriented people.

There are no winners in this case. Like you, I don't want to get shot when I'm out cross country skiing either, but I see no value in pursuing a vendetta.
17:55 December 31, 2011 by jomamas
I wish upon all of you that someone steps onto your road on a busy day and you kill them by accident.

Then you will all go to jail for murder by your own logic.

Or if you take your kids skiing and they die in an accident, you are charged with negligence causing death.

ACCIDENTS HAPPEN.
17:58 December 31, 2011 by Steggles
Hunters, Cross Country Skiers,Wild Animals.......the three ingredients for disater.
18:04 December 31, 2011 by Reason abd Realism
I'm certain that almost all people who drink and drive and then kill someone are also deeply sorry that they have involuntarily killed someone. A death that has been caused as a result of negligence does not mean that the person who caused the death has no remorse, and the far lighter sentencing than for murder reflects this.

It is the responsibility of the state to implement and uphold laws that act to improve the safety of her citizens, and when possible to provide at least minor compensation to the family of the victims. This does not imply a vendetta on the part of the state, or the prosecutor, or myself. No one accused the government of a vendetta against Shell for seeking compensation for the damages they caused along the Gulf coast.

My father was a hunter and I am not against hunting, but I am against criminal negligence, if that is what occured here.
19:06 December 31, 2011 by procrustes
The operative principle is that if one fires a weapon s/he is responsible for the result. She, in my view, is guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

The next step is what would be an appropriate sentence, which depends on details not available to me. However, if the area of the incident is a place frequented by sporting public, she should not have been hunting there in the first place.
19:35 December 31, 2011 by johan rebel
I'm not 100% sure what the law says in Sweden, but in many countries the owner of a dog has an absolute responsibility in law for the animal's behiavior. Should the dog run out into the street and cause a traffic accident, or bite a passer-by even when it is on a leash, then the dog owner is responsible for the consequences, i.e. liable to criminal prosecution, civil penalties and payment of damages/compensation to any victims. The owner is liable, period. Laws like these are called strict liability statutes.

I would argue that the owner of a legal firearm has an analogous strict liability. Firearms are designed to kill and injure, that's their sole purpose. It follows that anybody who fires such a lethal weapon should take every precaution to avoid harming others.

Furthermore, this was not a victimless crime, somebody was killed. The berieved have a right to have the matter thoroughly investigated, the perpetrator prosecuted and to be financially compensated. Compensation is meagre enough as it is in Sweden, at least where causing injury or death is involved.
01:17 January 1, 2012 by Swedishmyth
Maybe they should be using shotgun slugs or sabot rounds instead. Damn 6.5mm and 7.62's keep going for miles.
05:27 January 1, 2012 by Exiled
A good debate requires indisputable fact.

As this is not present here you (plural) are simply making fools of yourselves.

What was the calculable trajectory? The deflection? The ballistic circumstances? The line of sight? The light and weather conditions?

Prosecutors are not known for their intelligence, but please debate facts as opposed to your convenient assumptions.
08:37 January 1, 2012 by N18h7m4r3
All of you who are favoring the appeal are forgetting the fact that the skier was skiing in a hunting zone. It was his stupidity to do so not the hunter's.

And drunk driving argument is so lame. You are not allowed to drive while you are drunk but you are allowed to hunt in a hunting zone. I myself am very much against the very idea of hunting because its for fun nowadays rather than a necessity and the game is highly unbalanced from the beginning in the favour of the hunter.
11:19 January 1, 2012 by Kevin Harris
@exiled

Good point! You might also add to that list: the lay of the land, the path, dress and manner of approach of the skier, the forage and cover in the background, the optics of the scope, the frequency of public use of the land in the background, and finally a point that no one seems to have raised. The skiers approach was so stealthy, he got within 60 meters of an elk, without even the elk noticing, elks are usually pretty good at spotting that sort of thing. How did that happen?
13:00 January 1, 2012 by medicinem4n
I can't believe that people are actually arguing that the hunter was not to blame. Of course she was! When you're firing a gun, it's your - and nobody elses - responsibility that there's nothing in the line of fire except your intended target. Even if she didn't know that the bullet might pass through the animal, she still should've made clear no living beings were behind the animal because of the possibility of missing the animal and hitting what's behind it.

Her actions are practically a textbook example of criminal negligence.
13:11 January 1, 2012 by Liquidmonkey
@ 17

what law says that regular people are not allowed to be in a hunting area?

none!

i'm not a big fan of being in the nature when the idiotic act of senseless and unnecessary hunting is happening nor should i be afraid that a hunter is being reckless.

you fire a gun, your responsible and of course its an accident BUT the hunter is still responsible.
13:48 January 1, 2012 by RobinHood
As the victim was so close to the elk, without the elk or the hunters (there were several) noticing him, could it be the victim was also stalking the elk from the opposite direction? He wouldn't be the first, or last, to creep up for a better look. Sadly, we will never know.

Many posters here seem to believe rules and good practice of hunting with guns, are the same as the Swedish criminal law. They are not, and should not be confused with one another.
14:37 January 1, 2012 by Grävling
I have to say that it is insanely unlucky for this to happen, and even though it is known that bullets do pass through animals, you have to remember they don't go in a straight line. The bullets direction out of the Elk, totally depends what it hits in the Elk, as this can cause a small directional change.

Here you have a set of completely un calculable factors, causing a seriously unlucky outcome, its tragic all round.
22:00 January 1, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
@ N18h7m4r3 post 17

Drunk driving is just another example of criminal negligence that can cause death. Just as we all 'know' that we should not do it, and that it is illegal, every hunter should 'know' that they have a responsibility to be extremely cautious before pulling the trigger, and that if insufficent caution on their part results in a death, that they must accept the consequence that someone could die, and that they could be convicted of involuntary manslaughter. One example occurs when the perpetrator is drunk, and in the hunting case the perpetrator was sober, but criminal negligence is still criminal negligence.

An even more strict definition of responsibility is suggested by Johan Rebel in post 14. These and a few other posts would almost imply that the hunter is responsible, regardless of the degree to which the victim was visible, or within the approximate projectile trajectory, which is an interesting legal perspective, but one that is bit more difficult for me to support personally.

What is missing here is a detailed set of photographs, trajectory analysis, weather conditions, local density of foliage, the presence of ski trail (if any), choice of projectile type, etc... so that we could debate the fine line between accident and criminal negligence.
11:19 January 2, 2012 by KungsholmenGuy
@ N18h7m4r3 post 17

So no one should ever walk in a forest during hunting season? What about other hunters? Do they deserve to be shot and killed because they are stupid enough (by your definition of stupid) to be in a hunting zone?

Apparently you do not understand the concept of criminal negligence.

The real debate here is whether or not this was an accident or negligence on the part of the hunter, and we do not have enough photos etc.. to judge that. No sane person is blaming the skiier, and no one should.
16:25 January 2, 2012 by Grävling
All the data needs to be seen.

I don't know all the details, but firstly you would ask if the hunter could see the skier? If not, then how dense was the forest behind the elk, and especially where the bullet exit hole was in relation to it's entry point? Did the bullet change direction out if the Elk? Did the bullet skim a tree? Where were the other hunters in the party? What was the terrain?

I think the comment in the news piece "just 60 meters" is miss leading, as 60 meters is actually quite far in a dense forest? Anyhow, agree with the top, it's either an accident or negligence case.
03:07 January 14, 2012 by LongPurple
@Reason and Realism - #23

Agreed. There are many circumstances that affect the

I do not know, nor can I know, all the pertinent circumstances of this sad and deplorable incident.

I will say that:

o The shooter must be sure of where his shot will go if he

misses, or in this case, the bullet penetrates the target,

o It is possible the shooter did not see the skier,depending on skier speed and topography of the area, even if a safety check of the area was made before firing.

I must wonder if it would not be possible to restrict and assign different areas to purposes of hunting and skiing. we have here some rather powerful anecdotal evidence that the two sports do not mix well.

@ Kung . . .Guy

Hunters know that they will be in the forest in front of the muzzles of loaded guns in the hands of strangers. They accept that danger as a part of that sport. Walking in front of the firing line on a target range under similar circumstances is an unthinkable violation of safety rules and common sense. I will not accept the danger a hunter must accept. That is why I am a "paper puncher" and not a hunter. I also stay out of the forest in deer season, and let the hunters use it freely and safely for enjoyment of their sport.
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