HAVERHILL — The lawyer for a Lisbon man accused of shooting and killing a Massachusetts man on opening day of the 2011 New Hampshire deer season insisted Wade A. Holmes believed he had shot a doe.
Fish and Game officer Gregory Jellison testified Monday that Holmes thought the deer was down, and that he “had made a good shot.” But as Holmes moved in to view the kill, he made a horrific discovery — he had hit Kenneth L. Brunelle, 31, of Marlborough, Mass., a 31-year-old father of two young boys. Brunelle died from a shot to the neck from the 30-06 Winchester rifle Holmes was carrying.
Holmes, 48 at the time, lives on Mt. Eustis Road in Lisbon, not far from where he was hunting on Nov. 9, 2011. He’s on trial in Grafton County Superior Court in North Haverhill, charged with negligent homicide and reckless conduct with a deadly weapon.
Holmes is accused of “failing to identify with certainty the target at which he was shooting,” according to the indictments.
Each of the Class B felonies carries a potential sentence of 3 1/2 to seven years in state prison.
Under questioning by Assistant Grafton County Attorney Jack Bell, Jellison described the questioning of Holmes the day of the shooting, in a cruiser and at the Lisbon police station.
As the 13 jury members — five men and eight women, including an alternate — listened, defense attorney Leonard Harden of Lancaster asked Jellison, “Wade was consistent that he saw a deer.”
Jellison replied that he had been.
Harden criticized authorities’ handling of the scene that day in the woods, specifically the large number of people he said were allowed to “walk around” there.
“Would it surprise you if there were more than 20 people up there?” Harden asked.
“No, it would not surprise me,” Jellison said.
Authorities said Brunelle was not hunting that day, but was wearing camouflage in a hunting party that included his father and brother, and was filming them as they hunted.
New Hampshire State Police detective Nathan Hamilton said Holmes was calm and cooperative throughout his questioning.
“He said this was something he would have to live with the rest of his life,” Hamilton testified.
Brunelle’s family members sat in a row on one side of the gallery, while Holmes’ family and other supporters sat on the opposite side.
In what’s scheduled to be a five-day trial before Judge Peter H. Bornstein, jurors traveled to view the shooting scene last week. They’re expected to get the case late this week.