Elk-Killer Trial Stirs Colorado

Tuesday, June 03, 2014
Sam Carter poses with Big Boy after killing him (photo: Lara Koenig-Daily Camera/AP)

An ex-police officer in Colorado has gone on trial a year after killing a beloved elk in Boulder, a shooting that some say was a covered-up trophy hunt.


Boulder police officer Sam Carter says he responded to calls of a wounded elk on January 1, 2013 in the neighborhood of Mapleton Hill and put the animal down. Carter claimed it was a mercy killing. But some officers dispute Carter’s version of the incident.


Boulder County Sheriff’s deputy Jeff George testified that Carter told him the bull elk was a nuisance, harassing local residents and their pets. George said Carter seemed proud of his killing of such a large animal, which locals called Big Boy. George also testified that he saw no injuries on the elk other than the gunshot wounds. When asked by the prosecutor if he believed Carter’s story about the elk being injured, George said, “It was a lie,” according to a story in the Boulder Daily Camera.


In previous testimony, Carter was said to have sent texts saying he planned to kill the elk. He later took a photo of himself with the dead animal.


Carter faces multiple charges, including illegally killing a big game animal while on duty, attempting to influence a public official, and tampering with evidence. Testimony concluded on Monday, with Carter choosing not to testify. Closing arguments are scheduled for Tuesday morning, after which the case will go to the jury.


“Maybe we’re strange, but the philosophy up here is live and let live,” Mary Lee Withers, a pet supply storeowner, told the Associated Press. “That elk never did anything.”


One Boulder man, Jonathan Bennett, even wrote a song about the killing. Part of the lyrics say “Gunned down for nothing, But his sovereign space, Wrong time, wrong place.” The late elk also has his own Facebook page: RIP Big Boy.

-Steve Straehley, Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Sides Rest in Mapleton Elk Case; Closings Expected Tuesday (by Mitchell Byars, Boulder Daily Camera)

Boulder Deputy on Sam Carter’s Claim Mapleton Elk Was Injured: ‘It Was a Lie’ (by Mitchell Byars, Boulder Daily Camera)

Sam Carter’s Attorney: Ex-Cop ‘Not Guilty of Anything’ in Killing of Mapleton Elk (by Mitchell Byars, Boulder Daily Camera)

Elk Killing Trial Ignites Emotions in Hippie Town (by Sadie Gurman, Associated Press)

Drunken Elk Suspected of Murder after Victim’s Husband Spent 10 Days in Jail (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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