Robert Trundy on Tuesday pleaded guilty to manslaughter for the killing of 34-year-old Karen Wrentzel on the opening day of the 2017 deer hunting season. The Hebron man, who shot Wrentzel while she was on her property digging for gemstones, will spend nine months behind bars as part of the sentence passed down Tuesday in an Oxford County courtroom.
But the nine months behind bars isn’t Trundy’s full sentence.
Justice Andrew Horton passed down a sentence of seven years in prison with all but nine months suspended. In addition to prison time, Trundy was sentenced to four years of probation and ordered to pay $928 in restitution for funeral expenses. He’ll also be required to perform 100 hours of community service focused on hunter safety. In addition, Trundy was ordered to forfeit the rifle with which he shot Wrentzel, as he is prohibited from possessing firearms for the rest of his life.
Members of Wrentzel’s family spoke out in the courtroom to urge Horton to pass down a harsher sentence. BDN readers shared a similar sentiment in online comments. Some also wondered: How does a seven-year sentence become only nine months in jail?
The seven-year sentence isn’t just a formality.
After Trundy is released, he’ll be on probation for four years. If he violates the terms of his probation, he could be sent back to prison or jail for up to six years and three months — the remainder of the seven-year sentence.
Horton didn’t announce the terms of Trundy’s probation in the courtroom Tuesday, but the standard conditions of probation are that the felon should: commit no new crimes, have no contact with the victim’s family, regularly report to his probation officer and follow the probation officer’s instructions, pay restitution and complete the required community service.
If Trundy violated any of those terms — say, he was found to have a firearm or to have contacted Wrentzel’s family — his probation would be revoked and a judge could send him back behind bars for up to six years and three months.
However, it appeared Horton didn’t think such a violation was likely. Trundy has no previous criminal record, and Horton said he didn’t expect to see him back in court.
Under Maine law, Trundy faced up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000 on the manslaughter charge. He also faced the possibility of another five years in prison and a $5,000 fine for another charge, failure to render aid, that was dismissed as part of a plea deal Trundy’s attorney struck with prosecutors.
While Trundy won’t spend as much time behind bars as Wrentzel’s family would have liked, he will serve more time than two other hunters who killed non-hunters. Dan Scott, the Maine Warden Service lieutenant who oversaw the investigation into Wrentzel’s death, said the sentence “is significantly longer than other hunting related shooting incident convictions of the past.”
The most recent incident of a non-hunter being killed by a hunter was in 2006 in Paris, which is adjacent to Hebron. Megan Ripley, 28, was fatally shot in a wooded area near a field behind her family’s farmhouse. Timothy Bean pleaded guilty to manslaughter in that case. He was sentenced to two years in prison with all but 30 days suspended. Bean also was ordered to pay $5,000 to reimburse the family for funeral expenses and to speak at hunter safety classes.
In 1988, hunter Donald Rogerson shot and killed Karen Wood while she was on her property in Hermon. One grand jury refused to indict Rogerson. A second did, but after standing trial he was acquitted of the charges.