On Tuesday, a former Boulder police officer was convicted in a high-profile elk poaching case.
UPDATE: Sam Carter was found guilty of nine charges. He now faces up to six years in prison for killing a trophy bull elk that was a fixture of the Mapleton Hill neighborhood in Boulder.
The Associated Press reports the charges include three felonies – forgery, tampering with evidence, and attempting to influence a public official – and six misdemeanor charges, which include misconduct, illegal possession of a trophy elk, conspiracy to commit illegal possession of wildlife, unlawfully taking a big game animal out of season, and unlawful use of an electronic communication device to unlawfully take wildlife.
In January of 2013, Carter shot and killed a trophy bull elk – dubbed “Big Boy” by locals – while it was grazing beneath a crabapple tree. Prosecutors say that Carter turned off the GPS in his squad car when he shot the elk and did not report his whereabouts to his station.
He later called his friend and fellow officer Brent Curnow to help him collect and harvest the carcass at the scene of the killing.
According to KDVR News, investigators later uncovered text messages between Carter and Curnow that revealed the pair had planned to kill Big Boy a week before his death. In one message, Carter reportedly wrote, “He’s going to die.”
Last year, Curnow plead guilty to tampering with evidence and other charges. He was set to testify against Carter in the trial.
This cellphone picture shows Curnow, left, and Carter standing with Big Boy shortly after he was killed.
Carter forged tags to conceal the poached elk as roadkill. He later told police that he had shot the animal because it was injured; however, a necropsy later revealed that it had no injuries at the time of its death.
Carter then claimed he killed Big Boy because it was a threat to public safety, an argument his defense attorney used in court.
But many Boulder residents felt that Big Boy was never a threat to the public. Many residents considered the animal a local treasure. After its death, residents held prayer vigils, wrote songs about him and devised a plan to build a permanent memorial in town in his honor, according to the Associated Press.
“Maybe we’re strange, but the philosophy up here is live and let live,” Boulder resident Mary Withers told the AP. “That elk never did anything.”
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