According to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, five local individuals have received sentencing after reaching a plea agreement in connection with the poaching death of an elk in Morgan County General Sessions Court.
Kenneth T. Kelly, Oliver Springs, Austin C. Woodall, Oliver Springs, Steven H. Daugherty, Petros, Samantha Leann McColl, Oliver Springs, and Donovan Cade Godwin, Coalfield, pled guilty to charges placed after an investigation by Morgan County wildlife officer, Travis Buchanan. The investigation shows the large bull elk was shot by a .44 magnum rifle and a 12-gauge shotgun on Dec. 21, 2012, in the Prudential Hollow area located between Coalfield and Oliver Springs and that all five charged were involved in a conspiracy to hide the violation after the fact.
Wildlife officials were notified about the location of the dead elk carcass by a concerned community member on Dec. 23, 2012, where it was recovered. Following the investigation, charges placed against the poaching party members included: hunting and killing an elk during a closed season, violation of centerfire weapon law, illegal possession of a wild elk, illegal transportation of a wild elk, and criminal conspiracy.
As a result of the plea agreements of the five guilty parties, almost $28,000 in fines, court costs and restitution were issued, 18 years total of hunting privileges were suspended from the group and they received 14 years of suspended jail time and court supervised probation. Two firearms were declared contraband by the court. This case also set a state court precedent for restitution to the State of Tennessee for illegal taking of an elk at $5,000.