Negligent homicide charges for hunter

A 44-year-old Wisconsin man has been charged with criminally negligent homicide in the September death of a hunting companion.

The District Attorney's Office filed charges Wednesday against Douglas Jones for the Sept. 20 death of Gerald Holverson. Holverson, reportedly a lifelong friend of Jones', died from a black-powder gunshot wound.

The charge, criminally negligent homicide, is a Class 5 felony. Jones was issued a felony summons listing a date to appear at the Routt County Court. If he complies with the summons, he will not be arrested.

Routt County Sheriff's Lt. Richard Wood said Jones knows a summons is coming from the District Attorney's Office.

Jones was the sheriff's office's primary suspect in the shooting, Wood said.

"There has been a lot of work done on it," Wood said. "It has come to the point where the DA's office finally agreed charges were appropriate."

At the end of October, Routt County Coroner Dwight Murphy ruled the death a homicide. At that time, Murphy said his ruling was based on witnesses' accounts of what occurred, the time of day and information from the Routt County Sheriff's Office investigation. Murphy's ruling was independent of any charges from the DA's office.

Holverson died between 5:45 and 6 a.m. Sept. 20, the death certificate states.

From the beginning of the investigation, the sheriff's office has said the shooter was a lifelong friend and in the hunting party with Holverson. Murphy said the shooter thought he was firing at an elk. He had a licensed to kill a bull elk, which requires the animal have antlers.

The autopsy reports indicated Holverson died from a black-powder gunshot from a .54 caliber muzzleloader. The bullet went into his back in the right shoulder area behind the armpit.

Holverson died on Bureau of Land Management land about a mile west of Waller Reservoir in the King Mountain area of South Routt. He was one of six people in a hunting party from Wisconsin and Indiana that had been hunting for about a week.

Three were bow hunters, including Holverson, and the other three were muzzleloaders. The group had numerous hunting licenses, including those to kill elk and deer.

At the time of the shooting, the only piece of orange clothing Holverson was wearing was a faded orange hat. Colorado hunting law does not require bow hunters to wear any orange.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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