A 34-year-old hunter who mistook a woman for a deer on Thanksgiving eve is facing five to 15 years in prison after being charged with manslaughter on Thursday in Chautauqua County Court.
Rosemary Billquist, 43, a hospital worker, was walking her two dogs in a field behind her Sherman, New York, home when she was shot by a .35-caliber round from a high-powered hunting pistol fired from 200 yards away, according to CBS News.
Thomas Jadlowski, who claimed he thought the woman was a deer, pleaded not guilty. Bail was set at $50,000.
The shooting occurred around 5:20 p.m., or after dark when it is illegal to hunt deer.
“This incident is a tragic reminder of the importance that hunting laws be followed,” Chautauqua County District Attorney Patrick Swanson said in a statement, according to the New York Post.
Jadlowski is “being held accountable for his dangerous and reckless conduct when he fired a shot in the dark, causing this terrible tragedy,” State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos added.
Swanson also said at the news conference “there is no allegation that this was intentional in any way…[but it was] completely avoidable.”
Jadlowski heard Billquist cry out after firing, ran to her and called 911, investigators said.
CBS affiliate WROC reported that Billquist was found by first responders unresponsive about 150 yards behind her home. She was immediately transported to UPMC Hamot in Erie, Pennsylvania, but later succumbed to her injuries…
Hundreds of people attended Billquist’s funeral on Wednesday.
“This tragic event,” Sheriff Joseph Gerace said, “should never have happened.”