Citing a Virginia case because of a dearth of New York precedents, a judge has decided that a hunter can be sent to prison for up to three years for fatally shooting a fellow hunter he mistook for an antlered deer if a jury determines he acted with criminal negligence.

Essex County Court Judge Richard B. Meyer (See Profile) upheld Michael M. Smith’s indictment for criminally negligent homicide under Penal Law §125.10, based on evidence that he fired into dense undergrowth and killed a fellow hunter, not the deer he thought he was firing at.

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