SOUTH PARIS, Maine — Recalling Karen Wrentzel as a free spirit who loved life, nature and everyone she met, family members of the slain woman angrily urged Oxford County Superior Court Justice Andrew Horton to send the man who killed her — hunter Robert Trundy — to jail for a long time.
Their heartfelt pleas moved Horton emotionally, he said. But realistically, the seven-year sentence he received for his guilty plea to manslaughter will likely send Trundy to jail for just nine months, with six-plus years suspended plus 4 years of probation.
That was not enough for the 20-or-so family members and friends who crowded into the courtroom, 10 of whom chose to speak before a plea deal was finalized.
“The truth is, there was no deer,” Wrentzel’s uncle, Jon Spofford of Hebron, told the court, addressing the claim that Trundy had made to game wardens after the Oct. 28, 2017 incident. “He fired at movement. Karen was moving. He fired at what was moving, and he hit it.”
Then, Spofford repeated the words that had previously been attributed to Trundy, during interviews after the incident.
“‘I saw a brown thing move. It looked like the ass of the deer,’” Spofford said. “This ridiculous claim to innocence only further proved his refusal to accept the responsibility of his recklessness.”
The 34-year-old Wrentzel died after being hit in the hip and pelvis by a bullet fired by Trundy on the residents-only opening day of deer season two years ago. Wrentzel was digging gemstones on her own land.
Jeremy Wrentzel, Karen Wrentzel’s brother, told the judge that even though the plea deal called for dismissing a charge of failure to render aid, he could not forget what reportedly happened in the woods that day.
“Robert Trundy heard my sister scream and did nothing. He failed to render aid,” Jeremy Wrentzel said. “He had no idea if who he shot was going to survive or not. And he did nothing. That is unforgivable.”
Debbie Morin, Karen Wrentzel’s mother, offered up a glimpse of her daughter gleaned from a list the family found after her death.
It was a to-do list for her life, written a few years before her death, and included both the whimsical and the idealistic.
“Build a treehouse in the woods. Hike the Appalachian Trail. Drive through the desert. Create with stained glass. Paint by moonlight. Have a garden. Teach someone how to climb trees. Build a pedal-powered car,” the list said, in part.
Morin said Trundy’s conduct after the incident took place was reprehensible.
“I know he didn’t go out there that day planning to kill someone. I could have forgiven him the day he did it if he had not done everything wrong since then,” Morin said. “Everything Trundy has done has been to avoid blame and accountability.”
And Morin said she hopes her daughter’s death serves as a cautionary tale for other hunters who may choose to pull the trigger when there’s still doubt about the target they think they saw.
“As another hunting season comes around, I hope and pray that hunters will remember Karen Wood, Megan Ripley and Karen Wrentzel,” Morin said, referring to two other women who were shot and killed by hunters in Maine. “Ask permission to hunt on other people’s property, follow the rules to the letter, and remember the name ‘Robert Trundy’ as a blueprint for what not to do.”
And for Perry Morin, Karen Wrenzel’s stepfather, only a lifetime of reliving that day in the woods would be penalty enough for Trundy.
“I truly hope when [Trundy] closes his eyes at night that he hears Karen scream and relives that moment for the rest of his life,” Perry Morin wrote In a statement given to the judge.