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Hunting accident leads to conviction on Pennsylvania gun charges

A hunting accident has led to a 10 to 25-year prison sentence for a 49-year-old Pennsylvania man. The accident happened last November when the 49-year-old defendant was hunting with some friends on a plot of land he owned.

Another hunter, who was not in the defendant's hunting party, had just taken a deer when the defendant mistook him for a deer from about 88 yards away. The shot from the defendant's high-powered rifle hit the victim in the heart and the 49-year old defendant was charged with manslaughter and weapons crimes because of the incident.

The weapons charges stemmed from the fact that the man had been previously convicted of felony assault in 1985. In 1995, the state of Pennsylvania passed a law that made it illegal for convicted felons to possess long guns used for hunting, including rifles and shotguns. In addition, the defendant's hunting privileges were revoked after a 1993 hunting accident, in which a pheasant hunter was hit in the neck.

Allegedly, the man and his companions delayed calling for medical help while they hid evidence of the shooting, leading to the involuntary manslaughter charges. Initially, the defendant pleaded no contest to the charges, but changed his plea to guilty this month.

The judge sentenced him to 2 ½ to 5 years in prison for the involuntary manslaughter charge, 5 to 10 years for possessing the high-powered rifle and 2 ½ to 10 years for possessing a shotgun he had with him on the day of the accident.

In addition, the man may be facing federal charges. According to prosecutors involved in the case, federal authorities are investigating whether they can indict him with additional federal weapons charges.

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, "Lawyer David Manilla gets 10 to 25 years in hunter's killing," Larry King, 9 July 2011

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