ROCKLAND (AP) — A Maine lobsterman and his daughter were acquitted Friday of all counts stemming from the shooting of a lobsterman in a dispute over fishing territory off the coast of Maine.
Vance Bunker, 68, was charged with elevated aggravated assault for shooting 44-year-old Christopher Young in the neck on a wharf on remote Matinicus Island in July. Young survived the shooting. Bunker’s daughter, Janan Miller, was charged with reckless conduct for her role in the shooting.
Jurors deliberated for 1½ days before acquitting both in a trial that gave outsiders a rare view into the unofficial rules followed by Maine’s lobster fishermen.
Bunker and his son-in-law Alan Miller were feuding with half brothers Christopher Young and Weston Ames, with both groups accusing each other of cutting trap lines.
The dispute erupted into a confrontation in which Young boarded Bunker’s boat, only to retreat after being shot with pepper spray. The argument later moved to the island’s wharf. This time, Bunker brought a handgun, and Janan Miller showed up on the wharf with a 12-gauge shotgun.
Bunker told jurors he fired to protect his daughter after Ames grabbed for the shotgun. “I had no choice,” Bunker told jurors. “I was protecting my daughter.”
Defense lawyer Philip Cohen told jurors to “ask yourself, ‘What type of father would pull the trigger?’” Then he added, “The real question is, What father wouldn’t?”