Judge Lynn Brower of Bear Lake County sent a clear message to offenders of fish and game laws with fines and penalties totaling $6113 and jail time handed out to two men who confessed to poaching two mule deer in Bear Lake County.
On Wednesday August 16 th 2000, Josh Christensen, 22 and Nathan Humphreys, 24 both of Montpelier appeared in a Bear Lake County court in front of the honorable Judge Lynn Brower. The two plead guilty and were sentenced for the illegal taking of two mule deer out of season.
Acting on an anonymous tip Fish and Game Officer Blake Phillips located the kill site of a doe deer and other evidence corroborating the report. Based on this information officer Phillips obtained Search Warrants for two violators residences. Both Christensen and Humphreys gave full confessions.
Humphreys killed a two point buck while Christensen killed a doe. Both animals were shot with a Smith and Wesson .22 caliber magnum pistol equipped with a swift 2x20 scope. The deer were field dressed, taken to town for processing and the remains were thrown into the Bear River.
Court records show that eight months earlier, Josh Christensen was sentenced by Judge Brower for illegally taking a large trophy mule deer buck during the closed season. This combined with Christensen's failure to comply with court ordered probation and fine payments resulted in one of the stiffest sentences ever handed down in a Bear Lake County Court for poaching. Christensen plead guilty to hunting while revoked, hunting with the aid of artifical light and taking a mule deer during the closed season in order to avoid felony charges. His sentence included fines, civil penalties, and court cost totalling $3,592.00, all hunting, trapping and fishing privileges were suspended for nine years, one and half years of jail (1 year suspended), forfeiture of yet another firearm (the Smith and Wesson pistol) and seven and one half years of probation to all be served consecutively . Terms of the probation prohibit Christensen from being in possession of any firearm at any time, and allow any law enforcement officer to search Christensen, his home and his vehicle at any time of the day or night. Should Christensen violate his probation he would immediately return to jail to serve the balance of his two year jail sentence. Christensen was remanded to the custody of the sheriff to begin serving his 6 month jail term immediately with no work release.
Humpherys sentence included fines, civil penalties and court cost totalling 2,521.00, all hunting, fishing and trapping privileges suspended for six years, one year jail with all suspended except 30 days, and four years probation under the same terms as Christensen. Judge Brower pointed out that Humphreys had larger problems ahead of him as he faced an appearance before a district judge for violation of his felony probation which in all likelihood will land him in the state penitentiary for the next five to six years. Humphreys felony probation stems from an incident involving a domestic dispute during which he threatened a police officer with a firearm.
The third individual involved in this incident has yet to appear in court for his arraignment.