Man accused of fatally shooting hunter pleads not guilty to manslaughter

Christopher Austin, right, appears in Androscoggin County Superior Court with his
Daryn Slover | Sun Journal
Christopher Austin, right, appears in Androscoggin County Superior Court with his
Posted Jan. 12, 2013, at 8:53 a.m.

AUBURN, Maine — A Wales man who shot and killed a hunter in that town in November denied charges of manslaughter and shooting too close to a home.

In court Friday morning, Christopher Austin, 41, answered “not guilty” to an Androscoggin County grand jury indictment handed up Thursday.

Austin, who was freed from the Androscoggin County Jail Thursday on $5,000 cash bail, appeared before a judge in Androscoggin County Superior Court with his attorney, Scott Lynch.

He was ordered not to have or use alcohol and have no contact with the family of the hunter who was killed, 49-year-old Gerard Parent.

Lynch told the judge that he anticipates seeking expert witnesses to examine the scene of the shooting. Austin must be accompanied by the experts and Lynch if he returns to the scene, the judge said.

Lynch also asked the judge that Austin be given 48 hours to dispose of his guns.

Austin was indicted on a manslaughter charge, a Class A crime, punishable by up to 30 years in prison. He also was charged with discharging a firearm near a dwelling, a misdemeanor.

Austin caused the death “recklessly or with criminal negligence,” according to the indictment. Austin also was charged with discharging his Remington 700, a .308-caliber rifle, within 100 yards of a building or residential building without permission of the owner.

According to the Maine Warden Service, Parent and Austin were shooting at the same deer in an area between East Road and Route 126. According to investigators, both were hunting with rifles. A preliminary investigation revealed that Austin fired two shots and Parent fired one. Austin’s second shot struck Parent and killed him, according to Cpl. John MacDonald.

The incident was reported at 4:19 p.m. on Nov. 20, shortly before the end of the hunting day.

According to the Medical Examiner’s Office, Parent died of a gunshot wound to the chest.

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