Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Ferrum man gets 1 year for deadly hunting error
Jason Cloutier did not contest charges that he shot and killed a college student.
KYLE GREEN The Roanoke Times
David and Carol Goode listen to an apology from Jason Cloutier during court proceedings in which Cloutier was sentenced to a year in prison for killing their daughter Jessica.
KYLE GREEN The Roanoke Times
Jason Cloutier addresses the family of Jessica Goode, whom he shot and killed while hunting near Ferrum College.
ROCKY MOUNT -- A man who killed a Ferrum College student and injured another after he said he mistook them for deer was sentenced Monday to a year in jail.
Jason Cloutier, 32, of Ferrum pleaded no contest to involuntary manslaughter, carrying a concealed weapon, reckless handling of a firearm and trespassing. The charges stem from an incident in November in which Cloutier shot and killed 23-year-old Jessica Goode and wounded Regis Boudinot, then 20, in a wooded area near campus. Cloutier said he was hunting at the time.
The Goode family helped craft the plea agreement, said Chief Deputy Franklin County Commonwealth's Attorney Tim Allen.
At the Goode family's request, Cloutier will speak at hunter safety courses hosted by the state Department of Game and Inland Fisheries for five years after his release from jail, Allen said.
"The family was very, very reasonable," Allen said. "Very objective."
Allen said the Goode family wanted "some good to come from this."
Before having a private conversation with Goode's family, Cloutier addressed them in open court Monday.
"I just want to say how sorry I am," he said through tears. "If I could take it back, I would. I'm sorry."
Circuit Court Judge William Alexander sentenced Cloutier to eight years in jail, with seven years suspended. When released, he will be on probation for three years and have to submit to drug testing, a suggestion made by Allen after noting Cloutier's 1998 and 2003 possession of marijuana charges.
The criminal proceedings are concluded, but the healing is still under way, said Reginald Boudinot, Regis' father.
Regis Boudinot, who lost his right index finger, has undergone a reconstructive surgery and is scheduled to have another operation Aug. 17. Future operations may be needed.
In a summary of the facts against Cloutier, Allen said Cloutier was on county-owned land adjacent to Ferrum College when he shot at Goode and two other students, mistaking them for deer. One bullet from Cloutier's .35-caliber Marlin rifle hit Goode in the chest and Boudinot in the hand, Allen said.
Cloutier was hysterical when he realized what he had done and asked the students why they weren't wearing blaze orange, Allen said. He tried to administer first aid to Goode and Boudinot and he called 911.
Cloutier remained at the scene, and as he was arrested he told deputies about a Beretta pistol in his back pocket.
His attorney, Will Davis, said he cooperated through the entire investigation.
Alexander said it was clear the incident was an accident, though reckless.
"A beautiful young woman is now dead because of your reckless act," he said.
Charges against Cloutier of trespass to hunt and hunting without a license were dropped.