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MI: John Eugene Roswell faces trial in hunter's death

John Eugene Roswell faces trial in hunter's death

Posted by John S. Hausman | Chronicle staff writer
January 24, 2009 01:34AM

OCEANA COUNTY Authorities believe John Eugene Roswell was swinging his rifle to shoot at a deer when the gun went off -- shooting his hunting buddy in the head.

That Thanksgiving morning accident in 2007 killed 28-year-old Anthony Fuller of Hart and triggered a year-long investigation that ended with Roswell's recent arrest.

Roswell now faces trial on a charge of careless discharge of a firearm causing injury or death. The offense is a high-court misdemeanor punishable by up to two years in prison.

Roswell, 37, of 13 Courtland in Hart, on Tuesday waived his preliminary examination in Oceana County's 78th District Court. He was bound over for trial in 27th Circuit Court.

Oceana County Prosecutor Terry Shaw on Wednesday released additional details about the case. Its resolution was delayed first by a false story allegedly told by Roswell and, eventually, a long wait for the Michigan State Police crime lab to do ballistics testing.

The shooting happened in Elbridge Township, east of Hart. Fuller, Roswell and two other men were hunting in an area off Filmore Road east of 144th Avenue.

According to the prosecutor, Fuller and Roswell were near each other -- maybe 20 to 30 feet apart -- with the other two hunters some distance away and out of sight. Suddenly the other two spotted a deer, and both shot and missed.

The third shot, investigators believe, was Roswell's: an accidental discharge, possibly while he was swinging his arm to position himself to shoot at the deer, Shaw said.

The shooting was reported at 10:28 a.m., and police arrived to find Fuller dead.

Roswell at first told Oceana County sheriff's deputies that the accident was Fuller's, Shaw said. "His initial statements were that the victim was running to see where the deer was, tripped and accidentally discharged his gun and shot himself in the head," Shaw said.

But "it was pretty easy to determine (the victim) had a 30-30 still cocked with a live round in it," the prosecutor said.

With Roswell the chief suspect, investigators sent his 30-30 rifle to the state crime lab for ballistics testing. Only in the fall of 2008, nearly a year after the shooting, did the results come back: the bullet that killed Fuller came from Roswell's gun, Shaw said.

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