Seven plead not guilty to hunting charges

OXFORD – A group of young duck hunters pleaded not guilty Tuesday to wide-ranging federal charges that they killed many more ducks than allowed earlier this year.
They face up to six months in prison on each count, and some are accused on as many as 11 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.
– Jesse Steelman, eight counts.
While their ages were not specified on the federal charges documents, they appeared to be in their 20s.
Sanders said he soon will set a schedule for hearings and trial in their case.
The men are accused of killing as many as twice their daily legal limit of ducks during January near Crowder in Tallahatchie County.
The charging document states the men took some 70 game birds, including 62 mallards “during the furtherance of the conspiracy” on Jan. 13.
They also are accused of crippling or killing migratory game birds and leaving them.
Russom and Hipp also are charged with hiding about eight mallards to avoid discovery by law enforcement.
Groner 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 a $15,000 fine on each count.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.

Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal