Hunter takes plea deal in mistaken shooting case

Posted at 2:47 PM, Oct 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-04 14:47:57-04

A Chautauqua County man has taken a plea deal for the shooting death of a woman who he believed was a deer.

33-year-old Thomas Jadlowski pleaded guilty to Criminally Negligent Homicide Thursday in Chautauqua County Court.

On November 22, 2017, the day before Thanksgiving, Thomas Jadlowski shot 43-year-old Rosemary Billquist while she was walking her dogs in a field behind her Sherman home. Jadlowski told police he believed Billquist was a deer, but the incident happened just before 5:30 p.m., which was well after sunset and the legal close of daily hunting.

The bullet struck Billquist in her hip. Jadowski heard her cry, found Billquist and called 911. Billquist later died at the hospital.

Jadlowski was originally charged with second-degree manslaughter, a charge that carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison. A Grand Jury returned a two-count indictment against Jadlowski alleging Manslaughter and Hunting After Hours earlier this year.

The pleas deal comes after multiple consultations with Billquist's husband, Jamie, who says his wife would not have wanted an unreasonably harsh punishment for the hunter.

"From the beginning I wanted the defendant to take responsibility and be held accountable, said Jamie Billquist. "I want the next hunter who thinks about shooting after hours to think, ‘There was this guy that went to prison. I should just go home.’”

District Attorney Patrick Swanson mirrored that sentiment with his comments.

"My hope is that this incident serves as an example to the hunting community of what can happen when basic hunting rules are not followed," Swanson said. "Guns can, and will cause harm when used without caution and care. These tragedies are preventable.”

Jadlowski faces an indeterminate term of state prison of 1 – 3 years up to 1 1/3 – 4 years when he returns for sentencing on January 17, 2019.

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