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DNR NEWS

For immediate release: Dec. 23, 1997
For more information: Stephen Sellers, 317/233-3046

Ohio man convicted of felony in 1996 hunting incident

  Robert Morley, 32 of Cleves, Ohio was convicted in an Indiana
courtroom on Dec. 11 of charges stemming from a 1996 hunting incident on
a farm near Rising Sun in Ohio County. A jury found Morley guilty of a
Class C felony for shooting and critically injuring Ryan Combs, of
Dearborn County.
 Combs, who was 17-years-old at the time of the incident, was struck in
the neck and jaw with a 12 gauge shotgun slug. He survived the incident
and has undergone 19 surgeries to repair massive facial injuries. Three
more surgeries are planned.
 According to Indiana Conservation Officer David Jackson, who
investigated the case, Morley told police officers that he was hunting
coyote. Morley reportedly fired two shots when he thought he saw
movement on the ground, which he believed to be a coyote, according to
Jackson.
 When Morley heard Combs cry out after being injured, he left the woods
and asked someone to call for help. Morley left the scene before law
enforcement officers arrived, according to Jackson. Morley was indicted
by an Ohio County grand jury for criminal recklessnes with a deadly
weapon causing serious bodily injury.
 “This is a significant conviction because of the strong message it
sends. You can’t commit a reckless act and walk away from it by just
calling it an accident,” said Larry Allen, director of the Department of
Natural Resources’ Division of Law Enforcement.
 The trial lasted three days. A jury of four men and eight women
deliberated for two hours before returning with a guilty verdict. A
Class C felony conviction carries a prison term of between two and eight
years, with a maximum fine of $10,000.
 “Ohio County Deputy Prosecutor Teresa Holland did an excellent job
presenting the case to the jury. The DNR thanks her and Prosecutor Sally
Dierking for their efforts in this case,” Allen said.
 “Although thousands of hunters take to the field each year, there are
few hunting accidents. Most firearms-related injuries are self inflicted
or accidents involving fellow members of a hunting party,” Allen said.