By Randy Wyrick
EAGLE — If the average male mule deer weighs around 200 pounds and John Aaron Golman is convicted on all 18 criminal charges stemming from allegedly poaching four mule deer, he could face fines up to $442,250.
That’s $552.81 per pound, and he didn’t even get to keep the meat. He also faces up to 15 years in jail.
Golman, of Carbondale, was back in court Tuesday. When Judge Katharine Sullivan asked what he was doing about a lawyer, Golman replied, “Well, I need to get one.”
According to court documents, following the incident late in the afternoon of Jan. 17, Golman told Carbondale police he was hungry and took the opportunity, and had not planned to kill the deer, three bucks and a doe.
He said he then got “spooked” and took off. He said he was doing it for the meat, and was going to go back later and get them, the police report said.
He told police he shot the doe first, then the bucks. He said the shots were from between 30 and 50 yards and he used a Ruger M77 .270 rifle he said that his father gave him when he was 13 years old.
A neighbor told police she was pulling into her driveway when she heard a gunshot. She went through her house and out the back door where she found her husband, trying to figure out where the shot came from.
She climbed behind an earthen berm behind the house and heard another shot, a couple minutes after the first shot, and saw a big buck stumble up the berm. The buck ran only 15 to 20 yards before it fell, she said.
They said they saw Golman’s truck in the neighbor’s driveway with the door ajar. She called out, “Someone just shot a big buck.” A person got into the truck, and stayed there for more than a minute as she watched the vehicle and her husband called 911.
The truck finally left, but stopped at the end of the berm and fired once more onto the property, the police report said.
She said her husband parked his truck at the intersection of the road to block the shooter’s escape. The suspect vehicle came back up Ronce Lane honking its horn after it was unable to squeeze by. The driver turned west on the Frontage Road toward Catherine Store and drove away.
With the description of the truck and the license plate number, police found Golman about 30 minutes later at his home in Carbondale.
Carbondale police say after Golman was detained, he told them, “Yeah, I whacked them.”
He also told police he had borrowed the truck to go see the movie “American Sniper,” and stopped by the property to check on things. He told police he works for the owner part-time shoveling snow and landscaping. The owner later confirmed it.
As he was riding with police to the scene, he told officers he was ashamed and that he’d been raised better than that, the police report said.
He stopped talking after he was read his Miranda rights, the report said.
Investigators say all four shots were fired in the direction of houses, populated areas or toward Valley Road in the Roaring Fork Valley.
The carcasses were dressed and the meat donated to charities.
Golman remains free on $5,000 bond.
The felonies are four counts of willful destruction of wildlife. The rest are misdemeanor wildlife offenses and misdemeanor illegal possession of wildlife.
He’s back in Eagle County Court at 10 a.m. May 5.