Hunters to face judge on multiple charges

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – Guilty pleas are expected Monday when six Oxford duck hunters appear in federal court to face trial.
The men, whose ages weren’t stated on court documents but appear to be in their late 20s or early 30s, were accused in August on charges that they heavily exceeded their daily bag limit of waterfowl shot at a Tallahatchie duck camp. Some are accused of hunting without proper licenses.
While their trial is set to begin at 10 a.m., two officials close to the cases say they expect the men will plead guilty instead.
The accused are Christopher B. Groner, charged with 11 counts; Thomas A. Cobb, 20 counts; Chad Russom, nine counts; Robert Brian Jennings, 11 counts; Jesse Steelman, seven counts and Edward Payton Conner, eight counts.
All of them pleaded not guilty Oct. 12 in an Oxford hearing on the charges. Magistrate David Sanders will preside over their appearances Monday.
If judged to be guilty, each faces up to six months in prison per charge, as well as stiff fines.
A co-defendant, Danny Joseph Hipp, 34, pleaded guilty to one of nine counts Nov. 15 and was sentenced by Sanders to 12 months probation and a $5,000 fine with the stipulation that he refrain from hunting any animals during that time.
His other charges were dismissed after the guilty plea.
The full federal charges accuse the men of taking some 70 game birds on Jan. 13, 2010. In some instances, the birds allegedly were just left in the water.
Groner also was accused of knowingly killing a Great Blue Heron, which is illegal, while Russom and Hipp were accused of hiding eight mallards to avoid discovery by law enforcement.

Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com.