June 25, 2005
Judge warns man about hunting, drinking
Niles man gets jail, probation in wounding of teen
By LOU MUMFORD
Tribune Staff Writer
CASSOPOLIS -- A Niles man apparently is having difficulty
understanding that alcohol and firearms don't mix.
On Friday in Cass County Circuit Court, Judge Michael Dodge
sentenced Dennis Samples to two years' probation and 180 days in the
county jail, with credit for 11 days served, following Samples' guilty
plea to careless use of a firearm resulting in serious injury.
Dodge said the charge stemmed from a May 18 incident in which the
49-year-old Samples fired a shotgun on his Redfield Road property.
Although the judge said Samples, who registered a blood alcohol level
of 0.07 percent, believed he was shooting at a turkey, the blast
struck 17-year-old Cameron Cooper, of Niles, causing serious injuries.
One of several people who had received permission from Samples to
hunt on the property, Cooper has incurred more than $8,000 in medical
bills, Dodge said.
"You're lucky you're not here on a 15-year felony (charge) for
manslaughter,'' the judge told Samples.
Dodge pointed out also that the shooting occurred only two weeks
after Samples was placed on probation for possessing a weapon while
under the influence of liquor. In that incident, Samples accidentally
shot himself in the buttocks, Assistant Cass Prosecutor Jason Ronning
said. Dodge called Samples "a functioning alcoholic,'' because he has
managed to consume alcohol while holding a steady job. Samples
apologized for the shooting but Dodge chastised him for devoting his
weekends to "boozing and shooting weapons.''
He ordered Samples to cover Cooper's medical expenses and to pay
$570 in fines, fees and court costs. In addition, he was ordered to
make payments of $40 a month to offset his probation costs.