By Ernie Over
In a change of plea hearing that lasted almost four hours, Ninth District Circuit Court Judge Wesley A. Roberts on Friday accepted plea agreements from four defendants in a moose poaching case. The four, Phillip “Rocky” Hurtado, 73, and Phillip P.J. Warren, 31, both of Arapahoe and Sammy Edlund, 30 and his finance` Danielle Najera, 28, both of Gillette, all accepted responsibility, one reluctantly, for what Roberts said was an “out-and-out slaughter” of four game animals.
For details of the sentencing and punishment, click here.
Roberts had to pry details out two of the defendants, Hurtado and Warren, whose stories were occasionally contradictory and not as complete as their co-defendants Edlund and Najera. Najera, in prosecutor Ember Oakley’s opinion, offered the most complete and accurate story of the days leading up to the poaching. In final comments before being dismissed, Najera broke down at the defense table. With tears flowing and her body shaking, she offered an emotional apology. “I would like to apologize to the State of Wyoming for my actions,” she said while sobbing. “I feel horrible for what I’ve done and the opportunities I’ve taken away from well deserved people.” Regaining her composure, but in a soft voice, she said, “I’m willing to face whatever you sentence me. I sincerely apologize for everything.” She also said the prohibition on hunting for the rest of her life was fine with her, because, she said, she never wants to hunt again after this after this experience.
Roberts acknowledged Najera, and he said, “I’m sure the citizens will appreciate your sincere and heart felt remorse.”
Her companion Edlund, had his public defender, Skye Phifer, speak on his behalf. “He knew the reservation was different,” as far as hunting regulations go, Phifer said in his clients defense. Pfifer said Edlund believed Hurtado when Hurtado told him that it’s okay to go out and shoot and that he had the tags, and that he could hunt. The public defender said Edlund “was shocked” when he found out the truth. “He didn’t know what to do.” More....