Wales hunter charged with manslaughter

AUBURN — A Wales man who shot and killed a hunter this past November was indicted Wednesday on charges of manslaughter and discharging a firearm near a dwelling.

Christopher Austin, 41, was officially charged by an Androscoggin County grand jury with causing the death of Gerard Parent, 49, on Nov. 20, 2012.

Austin was picked up on a warrant and taken to Androscoggin County Jail Thursday morning by the Maine Warden Service. He was released on a $20,000 property lien.

Austin caused the death “recklessly or with criminal negligence,” according to the indictment. Austin also was charged with discharging his Remington 700, a .308-caliber rifle, within 100 yards of a building or residential building without permission of the owner.

According to the Maine Warden Service, Parent and Austin were shooting at the same deer in an area between East Road and Route 126. According to investigators, both were hunting with rifles. A preliminary investigation revealed that Austin fired two shots and Parent fired one. Austin’s second shot struck Parent and killed him, according to Cpl. John MacDonald.

The incident was reported at 4:19 p.m. on Nov. 20, shortly before the end of the hunting day.

According to the Medical Examiner’s Office, Parent died of a gunshot wound to the chest.

The manslaughter charge is a Class A felony. If convicted, Austin could face up to 30 years in jail and up to a $50,000 fine.

Christopher Austin

Christopher Austin

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Eric  LeBlanc's picture

As an avid hiker, I risk my

As an avid hiker, I risk my life entering the Maine woods during deer hunting season. Unfortunately, that's also the best weather for hiking and you only get one day of the week to feel safe(Sunday). It should be the other way around. One day for hunters and 6 for hikers. I'd settle for a 50/50 split but the rednecks run the state so that's not happening. Next year I'll be hiking fully armed and ready to defend myself against unruly and irresponsible hunters if necessary.

GARY SAVARD's picture

There is probably more chance

There is probably more chance of being run over by a snowmobile or ATV than there is of being shot by a hunter. Also, the licenses that these "rednecks" buy pay the bills for the management and protection the wildlife that you probably enjoy seeing on your hikes. Multi-use of open space is a good tradition in Maine. Or do like R. Quimby and buy a bunch and close it to access, then you could hike 24/7 unmolested by "rednecks".

Eric  LeBlanc's picture

I would agree with you

I would agree with you completely if the laws were stricter concerning reckless conduct by hunters. There's not enough manpower to police their actions in the woods and they know it. From my experience, most hunters resent anyone else being in the woods during hunting season. I've experienced countless dirty looks by angry hunters who feel they own the woods. They feel unstoppable because they're armed. Earlier this season a land owner was shot by a group of hunters for telling them they couldn't hunt on his land. I'll never enter a war zone unarmed again, because that's exactly what the Maine woods has become in November.

GARY SAVARD's picture

Point taken, Eric.

Point taken, Eric. Unfortunately, every outdoor sport has a few bad actors that tend to give them a black eye, because the only news that makes the front page tends to be bad news.

GARY SAVARD's picture

This is a tragic incident.

This is a tragic incident. No excuse for what happened, but both men were hunting too close to residences, and both men shot at the same deer. I hope all of these factors are weighed carefully by the court when Mr. Austin goes to trial.

Robert McQueeney's picture

Sad story

While this may well be nothing but an accident, a man has had his life taken. When someone takes a person's life, accident or not, great harm has been done. Not only to the person losing their life, but also to the victim's family and friends.

What can be done to fill the void of this family? Using a firearm requires great responsibility, and failure to use it entirely safely should be carrying great consequences. A man's life has been taken. I hope the judicial system does not take this lightly.


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