7 plead not guilty to hunting violations

OXFORD – A group of young duck hunters pleaded not guilty today to wide ranging federal charges that they killed many more ducks than allowed last January in Tallahatchie County.

They face up to six months in prison on each count, and some are accused on as many as 11 out of 14 charges.

Magistrate David Sanders presided over their initial appearances, heard their pleas and ordered them freed on their own recognizance.

“Basically, you are charged with killing far over the limit of ducks,” he said in the U.S. District Courthouse.

Defendants, reportedly from Oxford, are:

• Christopher R. Groner, 11 counts

• Thomas A. Cobb, 10 counts

• Chad Russom, nine counts

• Robert Brian Jennings, 11 counts

• Edward Payton Connor, eight counts

• Danny Joseph Hipp, 10 counts and

• Jesse Steelman, eight counts.

While their ages were not specified on the federal charges documents, they appeared to be in their 20s. Only one wore a suit coat and most of them looked college aged.

Sanders said he will set a schedule for hearings and trial in their case soon.

Basically, the men are accused of killing as many as twice their daily legal limit of ducks during January 2010 near Crowder in Tallahatchie County.

They also are accused of crippling or killing migratory game birds and leaving them.

In Count Nine, Growner is accused of killing a Great Blue Heron, which is against the law. Jennings is charged with three counts of not having the proper hunting licenses.

In addition to jail time, the men face up to $15,000 fine on each count.

The charges are detailed in what’s called “an information,” which is an official accusation that hasn’t gone to a grand jury. Indictments come from grand juries.

• Read Wednesday’s Daily Journal for more details.

Patsy R. Brumfield / Daily Journal