Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Thursday

December 27, 2012

Poaching suspects in more trouble

SUTTONS BAY — Two young men charged with poaching in Grand Traverse County face fresh charges in neighboring Leelanau County for illegally killing a deer there.

David Garrick Walston, 17, of Traverse City, and Daniel Kelsey, 21, of Lake Ann, each face several misdemeanor charges in Leelanau for shooting a deer. Authorities said the pair used a spotlight to "shine" and shoot deer in Kasson Township in early October, well before the firearms season opener.

Court records show the deer was shot from a vehicle, also illegal under Michigan law. Investigators believe Walston pulled the trigger while Kelsey shined the spotlight.

Authorities uncovered the incident as they probed other poaching incidents in the Grand Traverse region. Investigators believe Walston, Kelsey and Traverse City resident Zachary Mark Johnson, 17, killed a black bear and at least seven deer in recent months.

Police reports indicate the bear was killed in October off Clous Road in Grand Traverse County. It was then beheaded and its paws were cut off with an axe, according to police. Deer were shined and shot in and around Grand Traverse County.

Walston and Kelsey both face multiple charges in Grand Traverse County for their roles in the animal killings. Court records show Walston is scheduled to enter a plea to most of the Grand Traverse counts in January. Kelsey hasn't yet been arrested on those charges, which were issued in November.

Johnson pleaded guilty in Grand Traverse to a host of misdemeanors and was sentenced to a year of probation. He does not face any charges in Leelanau County.

The case started with a report of deer carcasses found dumped in the Copper Ridge area of Traverse City. Deer carcasses also were left along South Reynolds Road in Benzie County and in Solon Township in Leelanau County.

The bear carcass was found on the west side of Hoosier Valley Road in Grand Traverse County.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources cracked the case during an extensive investigation that turned up video surveillance showing two vehicles near Copper Ridge. One suspect also posted a photo of a dead deer on Facebook.

Walston's attorney, Michael Lewis, wasn't aware of the Leelanau County charges. He said he thought charges issued in Grand Traverse were intended to account for all poaching incidents in the region. Assistant Grand Traverse Prosecutor Noelle Moeggenberg said that's not the case.

Neither Walston nor Kelsey could be reached for comment.

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