Second poacher sentenced for killing wildlife |

Second poacher sentenced for killing wildlife

Tipton to spend six months in Moffat County Jail for spotlighting, killing animals

Christina M. Currie

Stanley Tipton, 18, the second of three men convicted of killing pronghorn antelope and mule deer in Moffat County has pleaded guilty and was issued his sentence Monday.

Tipton received six months in Moffat County Jail, two years probation, 480 hours of community service and more than $3,100 in fines and costs. He was charged with seven felony counts of willful destruction of wildlife and 10 misdemeanor counts of illegal taking of wildlife.

Tipton changed his original “not guilty” plea to “guilty” in exchange for a plea bargain that changed his case from criminal to juvenile, making it impossible for Moffat County 14th Judicial Court Judge Joel Thompson to sentence him to prison.

The change in the status of charges against Tipton meant less access to Tipton’s court file. Because the charges are against a juvenile, the file is no longer open to the public.

According to Deputy District Attorney David Waite, Tipton could only be tied to killings that occurred the night before his 18th birthday. That resulted in the plea offer. Waite said investigators did not have enough evidence to prosecute Tipton for killing any animals on the night of Aug. 21, the only night of the killing spree where Tipton was 18 years old.

In early August 1998, a group of young men spent three summer nights spotlighting and shooting a herd of deer and pronghorn antelope from a Moffat County road. Sixty-five animals were counted dead or dying. An area resident saw the carnage and reported it to the Colorado Division of Wildlife. Two months later, tips from concerned residents led to the arrests of Tipton, Josh Lawrence, 20, and North Dakota resident Thomas Fondie, 19.

In May, Fondie was convicted and sentenced to one year in Moffat County Jail, 10 years of probation and fined more than $17,000.

According to Waite, Fondie was found to have done more of the killing, thus the harsher penalty.

“Tipton was pretty remorseful,” Waite said. “I think that was one of the factors the judge used to determine the sentence.”

Last month, Lawrence was convicted of 27 felony counts of willful destruction of wildlife. Lawrence is scheduled for his sentence at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

The Denver TV/Radio Group filed a request Nov. 5 asking Thompson to allow cameras in the courtroom for the Lawrence sentencing, making the broadcast available to four Denver television stations, Court TV and KOA radio in Denver.

In its motion, the Denver TV/Radio Group said the camera would remain in one location and be unobtrusive. It promised to conceal all identifying marks, call letters and logo symbols so the network is not seen.

Thompson denied the request for expanded media coverage, concerned a camera would disrupt and have an adverse effect on the sentencing hearing by stifling the full and free discussion of issues.

“I find, in general, expanded media coverage unduly detracts from the solemnity, decorum and dignity of court proceedings,” Thompson stated in his brief denying the motion.