January 10, 2013

Wales man indicted in fatal shooting of hunter turns himself in

STAFF REPORT

A Wales man turned himself in at Androscoggin County Jail Thursday morning after he was indicted on a charge of manslaughter in connection with a fatal hunting-related shooting in November.

Christopher Austin, 41, of Andrews Road, surrendered Thursday morning but was released after posting $5,000 cash bail, according to the jail.

Deputy Attorney General William Stokes said Austin will be arraigned at 8:30 a.m. today in Androscoggin County Superior Court on the manslaughter charge and a second charge of discharge of a firearm near a dwelling.

Authorities said that Austin shot and killed 49-year-old Gerard Parent at twilight on Nov. 20. Parent, who lived on nearby East Road, died of a gunshot wound to the chest, the state medical examiner's office found.

It couldn't be determined Thursday whether Austin had an attorney.

The Maine Warden Service said Austin and Parent were tracking the same deer in a sliver of woods between East Road and Route 126, and both apparently fired at that deer.

The indictment by a grand jury in Androscoggin County says Austin acted "recklessly or with criminal negligence" caused Parent's death and used a .308-caliber rifle within 100 yards of a building or residential dwelling.

An indictment is not a determination of guilt, but indicates there is enough evidence to proceed with formal charges and a trial.

The fatal shooting was the only one of the deer rifle hunting season in Maine, which was from Oct. 29 to Nov. 24.

The shooting took place around 4:19 p.m., about 12 minutes after sunset but 13 minutes before the state-required end of the hunting day.

Parent lived at 392 East Road, at the southern end near the intersection with Route 126, and wardens say the shooting occurred near his property. The land slopes steeply down from the road and the wooded area where he was shot is in a valley.

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