Mount Savage man awaits sentencing for negligent hunting
Michael A. Sawyers Cumberland Times-News
CUMBERLAND — A Mount Savage man pleaded guilty Tuesday to negligent
hunting in December that resulted in the death of a Rawlings man.
Eric Franklin Riggs, 32, will await a presentence investigation
before finding out which portions of a plea agreement Allegany County
Circuit Judge Gary Leasure will impose.
Riggs, who was represented by attorney Ramon Rozas III, was ordered
by Leasure to immediately forfeit the rifle used in the shooting of
James Wayne Dawson Jr., 46, on Dec. 8, the final day of the Maryland
firearms season for deer.
On the day of the shooting, Riggs told Cpl. John Milbourne of the
Maryland Natural Resources Police that he thought he was shooting at a
“We are requesting that the maximum fine of $1,500 be imposed, with
the judge to suspend whatever portion he sees fit,” said Assistant
State’s Attorney Mark Alexander, who prosecuted the case. In addition,
the plea agreement seeks a probation period, and Alexander has asked
that Riggs not be allowed to purchase a hunting license during that
By law, the maximum suspension of hunting privileges for negligent
hunting is five years, though Milbourne said the Dawson family may
petition the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to
administratively increase that suspension.
Finally, the state has asked that Riggs be required to appear in a
video about the incident that would then be used during hunter education
courses throughout the state.
Leasure said he would rule once the presentence investigation is
complete. It is common, according to Alexander, for such investigations
to take about five weeks.
In court Thursday, Alexander read from Milbourne’s interview of Riggs
and the subsequent investigation.
The shooting took place on private land near a dirt motorcycle track
about one mile south of the Rawlings Post Office on the west side of
U.S. Route 220. Milbourne said Dawson was shot at a distance of 68 feet.
The bullet, from a 30.06 caliber rifle, clipped the right arm and
continued through the chest and exited near the left arm. Dawson’s
11-year-old son was walking immediately behind him.
“The call to 911 was at 6:38 a.m. and the shot was likely no more
than a minute before that,” said Alexander. “In fact, Mr. Riggs made the
call while he was running to Dawson.”
At that time, Riggs is said to have called his hunting partner, who
ran to the scene.
In the interview by Milbourne, Riggs is described as having been
distraught. Riggs told Milbourne that immediately after the shot he
heard Dawson’s son scream.
The shot took place, according to Alexander, before the legal
shooting time that day of 6:53 a.m. The day of the shooting was the one
day when antlerless deer could be taken legally during firearms season
in Allegany County, Alexander pointed out in court.
The incident came to be prosecuted following an indictment in January
by the county’s grand jury. The penalties for a first offense of
negligent hunting do not include jail time. Riggs’ plea was of the
Alford variety, which does not admit guilt, but which recognizes that a
conviction would likely take place.
Contact Michael A. Sawyers at