Hunter safety instructor ordered to trial on lesser charge

Photo: Oceana County Sheriff|MLive

WHITE CLOUD, Mich. (AP) – A judge has ordered a 62-year-old hunter safety instructor to stand trial on a lesser charge in the fatal shooting of a 13-year-old boy who was squirrel hunting in western Michigan.

Roger Hoeker of Jenison was charged with involuntary manslaughter, but 78th District Court Judge H. Kevin Drake this week sent the case to circuit court on a charge of reckless discharge of a firearm. The Muskegon Chronicle reports his defense argued the bullet may have ricocheted off a tree.

Police say William “Billy” Gort Jr. of Wyoming was shot in the head during a Feb. 18 hunting trip in Oceana County with a teenage friend and Hoeker, who also is a mentor for a youth outreach program. Police say the teens had shotguns and Hoeker had a rifle.

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