HAVERHILL — Wade S. Holmes was sentenced to two to four years in prison Thursday in the shooting death of Kenneth L. Brunelle of Marlborough, Mass., while Holmes was deer hunting.
Brunelle, a 31-year-old father of two, died on opening day of the 2011 New Hampshire deer rifle season from a high-velocity shot to the neck from the 30-06 Winchester rifle Holmes was carrying in the woods near his Mt. Eustis Road home in Lisbon.
Tiffanie Parks — who has two sons with Brunelle — addressed Judge Peter H. Bornstein before a packed courtroom and called Brunelle the love of her life. She said when she got the call two years ago that he had been killed while accompanying family on a hunting trip, "I dropped to my knees and screamed."
"I felt like someone ripped my heart right out of my chest and stomped on it," she said.
Holmes, 50, remained silent throughout his trial on a negligent homicide charge and passed up another opportunity to speak Thursday.
He left the courtroom with his family and could be free on his continued $25,000 personal recognizance bail for up to a year while his attorney, Leonard Harden of Lancaster, appeals the conviction to the New Hampshire Supreme Court.
Prosecutor Jack Bell did not oppose Harden's bail request, provided Holmes' release conditions included that he not possess any firearms.
Several family members of Brunelle — who was not hunting the day he died — gave victim-impact statements during the hour-and-a-quarter hearing.
Some accused Holmes of showing no remorse in the two years since the shooting, and of blaming Brunelle for the fatality because he wore camouflage gear instead of hunter orange.
"The victim bears no responsibility in his own death," said Bornstein, adding that Brunelle died because Holmes failed to exercise proper caution while hunting, and did nor make sure what he was firing at before he pulled the trigger.
Bell, an assistant Grafton County attorney, added, "He's shown a reluctance to accept responsibility for what happened to this young man. He says he's still not sure he fired the bullet" that killed Brunelle.
Harden countered that his client is not the sort of person who has ever been able to express his emotions easily.
"He can't believe that this has happened," Harden said.
"He has nothing other than anguish about this, and remorse. There's nothing I can say, and nothing Wade can say to make this better."