Hunter found not guilty after killing man he mistook for a bearBy Mason White 9:16 AM February 25, 2013
By: Eva Fett
(Scroll down for video) A hunter was arrested and charged with manslaughter related charges after he shot and killed a man he mistook for bear, according to court proceedings in Oregon.
Now, the hunter from Oregon, has been found not guilty of manslaughter in the shooting death of a Marine reservist from California.
The jury deliberated for about two hours Friday, before rendering their not guilty verdict for Eugene Collier.
Collier, 68, was the last witness to take the stand. He told the jury he was shooting to kill when he fired the .270 caliber bullet that killed Christopher Ochoa, 20, in French Camp, California, near Silver Falls State Park.
Collier was hunting with his 12-year-old grandson and said he was sure he was shooting at a bear.
“I made a terrible mistake. It was a tragic accident, I did not mean for it to happen,” Collier said. “I’m sorry,” he added.
He and his wife met with members of the Ochoa family privately after the trial ended. Neither family spoke to the media after the verdict.
Collier testified Friday that was about 100 yards from his target when he realized that he had killed a human being.
“I was shocked,” he recalled. “I thought the only person there was my grandson. Then I realized that he was not dressed like that,” he added.
His grandson heard the shot from his position and came running.
Collier’s lawyer, Jeff Jones, told the jury that the evidence pointed to a tragic accident.
“Sometimes bad things happen to good people when accidents happen,” he said. Apparently the jury agreed.