Hunter wants prior record kept out of trial
An El Jebel man accused of illegally using a salt block to hunt a trophy bull elk and a cow elk last fall received at least two prior citations for hunting violations, according to documents filed in Pitkin County Court.
Marc McKinney was cited by a Colorado Division of Wildlife officer on Nov. 1, 1991, for the illegal possession of a calf elk, court documents showed. He paid a fine for the citation.
McKinney also pleaded guilty in 1987 to hunting while under the influence of alcohol, documents showed.
His attorney, Arnold Mordkin, filed a motion March 30 to prevent those citations from being used as evidence in a new trial scheduled in May for charges on the fall 2003 elk-poaching incident.
“This motion is made on the grounds that evidence of prior bad acts is generally inadmissible against a defendant, the alleged prior acts and statements are too remote in time to be admissible against the defendant, and the danger of the unfair prejudicial effect of any of the material outweighs its probative value,” Mordkin contended in his motion.
In addition to the hunting violations in 1987 and 1991, Mordkin’s motion seeks to prevent testimony on other events, including:
– McKinney’s questioning on Oct. 22, 2001, by a Pitkin County deputy sheriff about the shooting of a porcupine on Aspen Mountain.
– McKinney’s alleged construction of a tree stand on property near what’s known as the Loushine cabin.
– Allegations that McKinney told another person that McKinney killed a small buck that was using a salt lick about 10 years ago.
Pitkin County Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely is scheduled to rule later this month on Mordkin’s motion to prevent use of those issues in the new trial.
McKinney is scheduled to go to trial May 21 on charges of illegally taking the cow and trophy bull elk at an area identified as near the beaver ponds along the Roaring Fork River, between mile markers 47 and 49 on Highway 82 east of Aspen.
The District Attorney’s office hasn’t unveiled its evidence yet. McKinney was cited Oct. 7 by the wildlife division for the incident that happened Sept. 11, 2003, during bow season.
The wildlife division’s citations came with possible fines and surcharges totaling $12,808 and enough “points” to revoke McKinney’s hunting license. Points are taken for hunting violations, just like points are assessed for driving violations.
The killing of the bull makes the penalties potentially stiff. When a bull that has more than six points on one antler beam is illegally taken, it counts as a “Samson law” case. In those cases, Colorado charges extra penalties for the killing of a trophy bull.
McKinney has pleaded not guilty. Mordkin said previously that the prosecutor’s case is built on the faulty testimony of a witness who saw salt the previous day at the site where McKinney shot his elk. Mordkin claimed there is no evidence tying his client to the salt or any evidence to show he even knew it was there.
Mordkin suggested that the complaint was filed by a jealous hunter who saw the trophy bull that McKinney successfully hunted.
Mordkin said Thursday that McKinney’s prior hunting record should be irrelevant in this latest trial. The issue is, “Did you commit this crime or not?” Mordkin said. “They must convict you of what you did today – not what you did 10, 12, 20 years ago.”
Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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Mordkin claimed there is no evidence tying his client to the salt or any evidence to show he even knew it was there.
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