Sentences Handed Down in Antelope Torture Case
Even though a year has passed since the investigation began, wildlife officers are still left distraught and stunned by the crime.
Near the south end of Seminoe Reservoir in late June 2001, a then 17-year-old boy riding an all-terrain vehicle chased a buck antelope until it was exhausted and ran it over. The still-alive antelope was strapped onto the ATV with bungee cords and transported back to boy's work crew.
There the boy instructed his pit bull dog to attack, and the antelope's genitals were bitten off. The antelope was then shot with a pistol, loaded back onto the ATV and discarded in a remote location with no meat salvaged.
Investigation of the incident uncovered additional violations by the ATVer and other members of his decorative rock collection crew. The violations included shooting antelope and sage grouse out of season with a .22 rifle and a similar incident involving running down a second antelope with the ATV.
"Even after investigating the crime, analyzing the evidence and witnessing the convictions, it is still hard to fathom that someone could have such a callous disregard for wildlife," said Brian Nesvik, Elk Mountain game warden.
Samuel Hartman, was convicted July 1, 2002 in Carbon County Circuit Court of wanton destruction of an antelope, cruelty to animals and taking game birds without a license. He was assessed $1,410 in fines and restitution and had his hunting and fishing privileges suspended for nine years. Judge Wade Waldrip sentenced him to 10 days in jail and two years supervised probation, during which time he cannot possess a firearm or commit any law violation.
In the plea agreement, another count of wanton destruction and the charge of possessing an overlimit of trout were dropped against Hartman.
Hartman, at age 13, was also convicted of attempting to take a deer out of season for shooting at a doe mule deer and its two fawns near Rock River.
Acting on a tip about the ATV-antelope incident, Nesvik located the month-old remains of a male antelope. Using the physical evidence from the crime scene, Nesvik was able to uncover enough evidence and information to obtain and serve search warrants on three vehicles and an apartment in Encampment on July 29, 2001. With assistance from additional G&F officers, the Carbon County Sheriff's Department and the Encampment and Saratoga police departments, information was discovered about some members of the work group shooting sage grouse, song birds, antelope and possessing an overlimit of fish. Three firearms, an ATV and several other items were seized as evidence.
That day, two other members of the work crew were arrested. Hartman's mother, Linda Annette White, was charged with possession of a controlled substance and two counts of accessory to wanton destruction of an antelope. Chad T. Bullock of Encampment, was charged with wanton destruction of an antelope and taking game birds out of season and without a license.
A fourth suspect, Joshua H. Jackson of Sarcoxie, Mo. had already left Wyoming but was later charged with one count of accessory to wanton destruction.
White, 40, and Bullock, 33, were released on bond. In November 2001, the four departed Wyoming for Arkansas. All but Bullock have returned to Carbon County and faced charges.
In a plea agreement on March 15, 2002, White pleaded guilty to the accessory to wanton destruction charges and the controlled substance charge was dropped. She was fined $630.
Jackson was fined $400 after pleading guilty to accessory to wanton destruction on May 28, 2002.
Law enforcement officials believe Bullock could be in Wyoming and a warrant was issued for his arrest in November 2001. He is a white male, 5 foot 9 inches tall with brown hair and hazel eyes. Anyone spotting him is urged to call the Carbon County Sheriff's Office at (307) 324-2776.
"The effort of Warden Nesvik investigating this complicated case is really appreciated," said Joe Cole, deputy prosecutor for Carbon County. "It was a long, drawn-out case but Brian continually kept me posted on developments which was a great assist in prosecuting the case."
Analysis of the ATV by the Game and Fish Department Laboratory discovered hair and tissue samples from three antelope. The investigation determined the group was working in the area for about a month. Interviews of the work group and all of the suspects revealed that Bullock and Hartman used .22 rifles to shoot at wildlife, including antelope, sage grouse and songbirds on nearly a daily basis.
"This wasn't hunting," Nesvik said. "It was just thrill killing with a flagrant disregard for wildlife and the law."
"Thankfully, as in many cases, someone was willing to come forward with information to start the investigation."