It seemed like a hard and fast case: hunter shoots neighbor while hunting after hours. Neighbor dies. Hunter is convicted. Or is he? Not in the case of a New York deer hunter who shot and killed his neighbor last November after legal hunting hours had ended, thinking she was a deer. Last month, a Chautauqua County judge dismissed the second-degree manslaughter charge against Thomas Jadlowski, the hunter involved in the fatal shooting.
In November 2017, Jadlowski called 911 after accidentally shooting his neighbor, Rosemary Billquist, believing that she was a deer. Billquist had been walking her dogs when Jadlowski saw movement, picked up his pistol and shot, striking her in the hip. The incident occurred after legal hunting hours. According to The Buffalo News, Jadlowski heard a scream, ran to where Billquist lay about 200 yards away, and stayed with her until authorities arrived. She died a short time later at UPMC Hamot hospital in Erie, PA.
While Jadlowski was found at the scene and arraigned last November “on a two-count indictment for manslaughter and hunting after legal hours,” the case was thrown out over a technicality, the New York Post reports. Apparently, the district attorney didn’t inform the grand jury of another lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide. After Judge David Foley reviewed the grand jury minutes, he “ruled the prosecutors erred during grand jury proceedings” by not instructing them about the other lesser offense and dismissed the case against Jadlowski, The Buffalo News reports.
Jadlowski’s attorney, Michael Robert Cerrie, agreed with the judge’s decision.
“The grand jury asked a very important question, but the district attorney did not answer the question with the details that were required,” Cerrie told People Magazine. “That effectively undermined the role of the grand jury.”
Now, Chautauqua County District Attorney Patrick E. Swanson has 30 days to appeal the judge’s decision or try for another grand jury trial. He told The Buffalo News that the grand jury would be “more efficient,” and added, “I don’t want to drag this out for the family.”
As for Billquist’s family, they aren’t giving up. Jamie Billquist, Rosemary’s widower, posted the following message to Facebook after the case was dismissed: “I have confidence that we will get justice in the end and it will be OK.”
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