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Convicted Elk Poaching Former Officer Avoids Jail Time

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BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – A former Boulder police officer convicted of killing a treasured bull elk will not spend more time in jail.

Sam Carter, 37, was sentenced on Friday to more than $10,000 in fines and four years of probation. He was convicted for shooting the trophy elk animal known around town as “Big Boy.”

Carter killed the elk last year while it was grazing under a crabapple tree.

Former Boulder Police Officer Sam Carter

Former Boulder Police Officer Sam Carter poses with the elk he shot with his service gun while on duty. (credit: CBS)

Before the sentencing Carter apologized for shooting the elk.

“I am haunted by this incident every hour of every day,” Carter said. “There is no rest of reprieve for me. My name and face have been plastered all around the world, social media, local news, paper, talk radio. Because of this attention I’m unable to even go to the grocery store or go to a restaurant without somebody recognizing me.”

In June, a jury convicted Carter of nine charges including taking of a big game animal out of season.

Prosecutors had asked the judge to send him to jail for a year but the judge declined to send Carter back behind bars.

Sam Carter (credit: Boulder Police Department)

Sam Carter (credit: Boulder Police Department)

“It has been described in the probation report that I am arrogant, that I’m above the law. I can assure you that nothing is further from the truth,” said Carter.

The incident caused outrage in the community. Boulder’s District Attorney Stan Garnett tried the case.

“The part of this case that was always astonishing for the law enforcement people involved and certainly from my office, was the brazenness of what the defendant did and how his actions showed a complete lack of understanding of what this animal meant to the community that he was sworn to serve and protect,” said Garnett.

“The reality is that the decisions that were made by Mr. Carter on this particular night have had a drastic and long-lasting impact on his life and those consequences will last for the rest of his life,” said Carter’s Attorney Carrie Slinkard. “He’s going to have to live with the fact that his face has been in newspapers and on television since the inception of this case. There are long-lasting consequences including felony convictions, permanent loss of hunting privileges that Mr. Carter is going to have to live with.”

The judge told the court a one-year sentence would be symbolic for the community but because of how sentences play out Carter likely would have only spent a few days being assessed before being released based on time served and good behavior.

Instead the judge sentenced Carter to four years probation with a number of restrictions including no alcohol and taking part in a work program.

The judge also imposed fines of more than $10,000 related to the convictions involving wildlife offenses.

“I would like to let Boulder know — I’m sorry,” said Carter.

As part of his sentence Carter will undergo a mental health evaluation and will not be allowed to own weapons during the four years he is on probation.

Another Boulder Police officer who helped Carter received home detention in a plea deal. Because Carter was convicted of felonies, he will never be allowed to serve as a police officer in Colorado again.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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