Barney Lakner made a split-second decision when he encountered three conservation officers while illegally snowmobiling in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in January 2014.
Rather than stopping, he thought he could shake the officers by speeding across the dangerously thin ice and open waters of Goose Narrows, the most dangerous stretch of Basswood Lake, Assistant Lake County Attorney Lisa Hanson argued Monday.
"He knew that ice was dangerous, and he took a calculated risk that those officers wouldn't follow him across that treacherous ice," Hanson told jurors in her closing statement in a three-day trial.
A Lake County jury made quick work of the case, taking less than an hour to convict Lakner of all six charges against him, including a felony count of fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle.
Lakner, 45, of Ely, could be headed back to prison. The leader of a group that terrorized campers on Basswood Lake in 2007, he did not take the witness stand or introduce any evidence in his latest run-in with the law.
Judge Michael Cuzzo scheduled sentencing for Aug. 3 and ordered Lakner, who is free on conditional release, to stay out of the Boundary Waters.
Defense attorney Chris Stocke acknowledged that Lakner "made some bad decisions," but insisted to jurors that he did not flee officers. Instead, the attorney built his case around Lakner's contention that he was trying to find a safe location to stop his snowmobile when he was flagged down by officers.
"If Mr. Lakner wanted to not slow down and keep going, he would've had a heck of a lot of land," Stocke argued. "The BWCAW is enormous. He could've kept going."
Charles “Sam” James, 54, of Columbia, Missouri was charged in a one count federal indictment for violations of the Lacey Act for engaging in conduct that involved the sale of whitetailed deer transported in violation of Missouri and Florida law.
According to the indictment, in October 2013, Charles “Sam” James, Co owner of Timber Hollow Whitetails, transported 11 live white tailed deer in interstate commerce in violation of state and federal laws from Missouri to a white tailed deer farm in Florida. The transportation of these animals took place after a Florida state law took effect banning the importation of captive white tailed deer. The defendant allegedly transported the deer from Timber Hollow Whitetails near Mexico, Missouri in a rented utility box trailer to a deer farm near Laurel Hills, Florida.
A 36-year-old man has received a 9.5 year sentence after hitting and killing a 23-year-old conservation officer with his vehicle in 2013.
Last year, Blaine Taypotat pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of Justin Knackstedt, as well as impaired driving and criminal negligence causing death. Taypotat hit and killed the conservation officer while Knackstedt directed traffic on the highway.
The sentence was just shy of a 10 year sentence being asked by the Crown. Taypotat also received a 20 year driving ban. He will be given a 36-month credit for time already spent on remand.
Justice R.D. Maher said he believed the sentence should be on the higher end of the spectrum. He said there were a number of factors that led to his decision, including the fact that Taypotat's blood alcohol content was three times over the legal limit, the fact that he was under judicial orders not to drive or drink at the time and the fact that he fled the scene.
Before he was loaded into a police vehicle, Taypotat said he was sorry.
"I'd like to give my apologies to the Knackstedt family," he said. "I'm sorry for everything I've done ... I hope that you can move on with your lives."
One of Knackstedt's supporters shouted, "Sorry won't bring Justin back." Taypotat responded, "I know. Like I said, no matter how much time I do, or how many times I say I'm sorry, it's not going to bring him back."
Kevin Callele, the man responsible for the Ministry of Environment's enforcement arm, said Knackstedt's death was deeply felt.
"Justin was a close friend and a co-worker, and it impacted everybody throughout the ministry," Callele said. "We just hope today that the sentence that was given will bring some closure to the family."
Callele said the death was made harder considering Knackstedt's age.
"Justin was a young gentleman that was just starting his career," he said. "He had a passion for the outdoors, he had a passion for the work he did, and he was looking forward to a career in the ministry."
Knackstedt and his partner were driving to patrol nearby Blackstrap Provincial Park when they stopped to help direct traffic around a highway traffic accident.
Investigators believed Taypotat was driving between 96-115 km/h when he hit Knackstedt with his vehicle.
During sentencing arguments, defence lawyers entered a Gladue report, which said Taypotat had been a victim of residential schools and years of abuse and neglect.
June 2nd-4th, 2015 Vancouver Island University Nanaimo, BC
Topics covered by field-oriented presenters:
GPS for evidentiary use (Tony Latham)
Firearms evidence (Tony Latham)
Digital/electronic forensics (TBA)
necropsy basics (Helen Schwantje)
decomposition for time-of-death analysis (Carleen Gonder)
Forensic entomology for time-of-death (Gail Anderson)
DNA analysis (Rick Jobin)
Marine decomposition (Gail Anderson)
Practical case history (TBA)
Conference Poster http://naweoa.org/pdf/2015/Wildlife%20Field%20Forensics%20Poster%20Canada.pdf
Conference Instructors http://naweoa.org/pdf/2015/Wildlife%20Field%20forensics%20Instructors%20&%20Seminars%20Canada.pdf
I’ve learned from experience that for most wilderness canoeing enthusiasts, there are three seasons: cool early spring for the eager, black fly and mosquito time for the foolish and the colourful fall for the tenacious.
Winter is thus the best time for perusing maps, chatting with fellow paddlers and planning trips, and certainly doesn’t lack the occasional longing for an outdoor scene without slush, sleet, wet snow, hail, freezing snow, ice pellets or freezing rain.