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By JOHN CURRAN
Associated Press Writer


AP Photo/Steve Legge




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WHEELOCK, Vt. (AP) -- By the time the game warden arrived, Kevin Kadamus was sitting down and holding his 17-year-old son in his lap, a blanket covering the boy's bloodied body.

"He was trying to talk to his son, encouraging him to hang on," Warden David Gregory said.

Jacob Kadamus couldn't hang on. With a 12-gauge shotgun, his father had mistakenly shot him in the torso on the opening day of Vermont's turkey hunting season. He died at the scene.

Now, Kevin Kadamus must cope with more than remorse and grief. The 45-year-old computer consultant and father of three has been charged with manslaughter.

It's one of the most difficult decisions prosecutors must make - whether to bring criminal charges against a guilt-ridden hunter who has killed a family member. Some prosecutors take a harder line than others.

"Everybody feels this is a tragedy, but we also have to remove emotion from the case and look at the facts," said state police Lt. J.P. Sinclair, the lead investigator. "There isn't an exemption under the law for family members being charged."

Police say Kadamus violated a cardinal rule of hunting by not identifying his target before firing in the May 1 shooting. The boy was hit after leaving his original hunting area and crossing into his father's, police said.

In August, a Minnesota man who killed his son while turkey hunting pleaded guilty to manslaughter and got a 30-day jail sentence and 10 years' probation. Anthony Klaseus was also ordered to perform 400 hours of community service.

In 2003, an Ohio man who killed his 13-year-old son with an arrow pleaded guilty to negligent homicide and was sentenced to six months in jail. Alan Foster, 40, of Middletown, shot at what he thought was a deer, hitting son Jason in the chest.

But others have been written off as accidental shootings, especially those involving two young people. In November, no charges were filed in the fatal shooting of a 15-year-old Broward County, Fla., boy shot by his 13-year-old brother while they duck hunted on Lake Okeechobee.

"There's nothing more heart-wrenching as a prosecutor, to make a charging decision when a defendant and the victim are family members, no matter what type of offense it is," said Scott Burns, a former district attorney who heads the National District Attorneys Association.

Caledonia County State's Attorney Lisa Warren, who is handling the Kadamus case, would not comment.

Kadamus, who is scheduled to be arraigned July 6, faces up to 15 years in prison. He did not respond to requests for an interview, and court officials were unaware whether he has hired a lawyer yet. Authorities said he has cooperated fully in the investigation.

Barry Latzer, a criminal law expert at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said such shootings "are very tough cases, very gray-area cases."

"It sounds as if it was just a pure accident," he said. "If (Jacob Kadamus) left an area where they'd agreed they'd each hunt separately and he moved into the father's area, then the father is even less blameworthy."

But Gregory, the game warden, said he refuses to call such cases accidents.

"There's three distinct actions that have to take place: You have to aim the firearm, take the safety off and you have to pull the trigger. None of those actions are ever accidental. The simplest way to avoid an accident is to identify your target.

"I've never seen a 17-year-old boy who looks anything like a turkey," he said.

Jacob Kadamus, an outgoing three-sport athlete known as Jake, was a sophomore at Lyndon Institute, a private school.

In its first outing after his death, the baseball team played the first inning with no one in left field - Kadamus' position. Players also wore black "JK" patches on their sleeves and hung his No. 11 jersey in the dugout.

"He was always smiling, always outgoing, cheerful, friendly," said Rick Hilton, Lyndon's headmaster.

Kevin Kadamus coached his children in junior sports programs.

"He's having a very, very difficult time. He's struggling. And that word is not strong enough to say how difficult this has been for him," said Paul Wheeler, Lyndon's athletic director, who spoke at the boy's funeral.

Some in the community think Kadamus may have been punished enough already.

Asked about the police's decision to charge Kadamus, Sheffield-Wheelock Fire Chief Marc Brown - who tried to resuscitate the boy at the scene - said: "I don't think there's anything they're going to do to him that's any worse than what he's feeling."

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I just gotta add 1 thing too this. The kid must of been pretty close in order to kill him with turkey load. Unless he was using 00 buck for turkeys!! Very sad either way.
 

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very sad...always know your target and beyond [wallmad]
 

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Really not a easy decision. A 17 year old boy does not look like a turkey. You must be sure of what your shooting at. Was it a accident, i don't think there is any doubt about that. Feel bad for the father. He can never be punished more than he has probabaly punished himself with the loss of his son and having to live the rest of his life with this guilt.Because the accident occured with a gun and not a car or some other accidental death he deserve jail time. I guess i am thinking No he doesn't deserve jail time..... It was a very unfortunate accident. WHAT DO YOU GUYS THINK.
 

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The kid must of been pretty close in order to kill him with turkey load. Unless he was using 00 buck for turkeys!!
In Virginia you can use #2 lead. That's a pretty lethal load. #2's are legal in a number of other states in the U.S., and hunters use this and make clean kills with body hits. (Some of us can remember how effective #2 lead or copperplated lead was on far-flying geese before the lead ban.)

My uncle's friend was killed in a turkey hunting accident about ten years ago. He took a full charge of #4's to the face. He died a few days later when his wounds turned septic and he died of infection. Someone shot through the bushes in the general direction of the turkey calling they heard.

There are just some people who have no business in the woods with a firearm. This is a sad story for the person who has to bear the guilt.
 

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In Virginia you can use #2 lead
I meant to say Vermont in my last post. (#2's are legal in both states BTW)
 

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so the idiot didnt even know if it was a turkey or not, and the kid was shot in the torso, that's a pretty tall turkey.


why cant you wear orange??? i really dont know the answer, can the turkeys see it??
 

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Yes, turkeys can see orange...they have excellent eyesight. Know your target and beyond...It's one of the 3 primary safety rules
 

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It's one of the most difficult decisions prosecutors must make - whether to bring criminal charges against a guilt-ridden hunter who has killed a family member. Some prosecutors take a harder line than others.

"Everybody feels this is a tragedy, but we also have to remove emotion from the case and look at the facts," said state police Lt. J.P. Sinclair, the lead investigator. "There isn't an exemption under the law for family members being charged."

"There's nothing more heart-wrenching as a prosecutor, to make a charging decision when a defendant and the victim are family members, no matter what type of offense it is," said Scott Burns, a former district attorney who heads the National District Attorneys Association.

This wouldn't even be an issue had the boy's father killed his son in a DWI car crash, instead of a hunting "accident".

Now before you accuse me of comparing apples & oranges, remember that in either case the actor would have to have taken a series of intentional steps to have resulted in the outcome of the young man losing his life.
Whether it be the father aiming, pushing the safety off & pulling the trigger or starting the ignition, putting a vehicle in "drive", & heading out onto the highway - the law does (& should) require a person to use due caution to be sure of one's target & what's beyond in the 1st case and to not get behind the wheel of a vehicle if one's intoxicated in the latter.

That being said, it truly is a tragic situation that the father is going to have to find a way to deal with regardless of what the law does to him.
 

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"There's three distinct actions that have to take place: You have to aim the firearm, take the safety off and you have to pull the trigger. None of those actions are ever accidental. The simplest way to avoid an accident is to identify your target
I agree, the father should be punished jail time should be mandatory. To many bleeding hearts wanting to forgive anything labled as an accident.

Feel bad for the father. He can never be punished more than he has probabaly punished himself with the loss of his son and having to live the rest of his life with this guilt
He wouldn't feel bad if he shot a stranger! He should feel bad for eternity, he took a life because he was negilent.
 
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