An Ohio man was sentenced to two years in prison after a hunting accident injured a man who was sitting in his home on his couch with his wife and baby nearby.
Earlier this year, Kasen Smith pleaded guilty to discharging a firearm while on or near prohibited property and injuring a person while hunting without permission in direct violation of local hunting ordinances.
Police said Smith was deer hunting without a license or permission to hunt. The incident took place near Market Street and West Calla Road when he shot at a deer on Dec. 20, 2021. The bullet flew across Calla Road, hitting a house and struck the victim’s foot.
According to local news coverage, Smith told investigators that he was on a hill and fired the gun in the direction of the houses. But he thought he was well into the woods and that it was safe.
The gunfire was prohibited because of its proximity to Market Street and a nursing home, prosecutors said. The gunshot crossed Market Street.
Smith received his sentence Tuesday morning by Mahoning County Court of Common Pleas Judge John Durkin. Prosecutors recommended that Smith get four years in prison. But on Tuesday, the county assistant prosecutor Mike Yacovone suggested the possibility of Smith leaving prison early. He cited a family tragedy this year when Smith’s 18-month-old son died during his incarceration.
Smith became very emotional during the hearing. As he wiped away tears, his lawyer noted that Smith’s “very young son was killed while we were awaiting sentencing in an accident involving a family member in the home. So the family is a complete wreck.”
The Judge Weighed the Options on Ohio Hunter
When Judge Durkin started to discuss the sentence, he told Smith, “I am sorry for your loss. Sometimes the law is written in a way, quite frankly, that we wish we could change. Sometimes we are forced to do things that, when taking in the whole picture, we wish we didn’t have to do.”
The judge was referring to a legal requirement that Smith must spend at least one year in prison on the condition that a gun was used in the commission of a crime. A brief discussion occurred at the judge’s bench. Yacovone recommended the judge grant judicial release to Smith after one year served in prison. Instead of the 18 months that were anticipated.
Judge Durkin approved the recommendation. He sentenced Smith to two years in prison with the possibility for release after one year served. Smith was then taken in handcuffs from the courtroom to begin serving his sentence. The judge said he appreciated the “courage of a prosecutor to take a look at the entire case and make a recommendation that they believe is appropriate.”
Smith paid $10,000 in restitution to the victim for his medical bills near the time of the plea. Judge Durkin also ordered Smith’s firearm be forfeited to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.