HAVERHILL — It took a Grafton County Superior Court jury less than two hours Wednesday to convict a Lisbon hunter of negligent homicide and reckless conduct in the shooting death of a 31-year-old Massachusetts man.
Wade S. Holmes, 50, faces a 3 1/2- to seven-year sentence in New Hampshire State Prison. He showed little reaction as he received the verdict; he had insisted he was shooting at a deer when he felled Kenneth Brunelle, 31, of Marlborough, Mass., on the opening day of New Hampshire deer rifle season in 2011.
Brunelle’s father, Cregg Brunelle, said outside the North Haverhill courthouse there were no winners in the case.
“I ain’t going to get my son back, and he’s going to prison,” said Brunelle, who was hunting near his son the day he was killed in the Lisbon woods off Mt. Eustis Road. The younger Brunelle left two young sons, Lucas and Kaleb.
Cregg Brunelle said he was not surprised at the speedy verdict.
“I knew he was guilty; it was just so cut and dried. There were no deer in the area. What was his rush to kill a deer? The season just started.”
“There’s enough heartache to go around,” Grafton County Assistant Attorney Jack Bell, the prosecutor, agreed during an interview after the verdict.
He praised State Police and Fish and Game officers for putting together the case; they had disputed Holmes’ contention that he was firing at a doe when he took a shot from about 75 yards with his Winchester 30-06.
During the five-day trial, defense attorney Leonard Harden pointed out several times that Brunelle was dressed in camouflage. But Bell said what Brunelle was wearing that day was irrelevant.
“Whether he was wearing a tuxedo or a Scuba outfit doesn’t matter. When you fire a bullet, you own it,” Bell told the jury.
Although Holmes was convicted on two counts, it was an “alternative sentencing” case. Bell will choose which count Holmes will be sentenced on.
Judge Peter H. Bornstein has not set a sentencing date. Bell would not discuss his sentencing recommendation Wednesday.