Accused deer hunters plead to reduced charge

By: Brian Louwers | Online Only | Published March 5, 2013

WARREN — Two men arrested and charged with a felony in December for killing a deer in a Warren neighborhood have agreed to a plea deal under a reduced charge of animal cruelty.

William Francis of Riverview, 27, and Myles Ehret of Royal Oak, 19, appeared in the 37th District Court March 5 where they were charged late last year with killing/torturing an animal, punishable by up to five years in prison.

Under the terms of an agreement worked out between Macomb County prosecutors and defense counsel, Francis agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor animal cruelty charge that carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail.

Prompted by defense attorney Michael Chupa, Francis admitted that he was the one who killed a deer with a bow and arrow in a wooded area near Van Dyke and 14 Mile Road on Dec. 21.

Minutes before Francis formally agreed to the deal, Ehret entered a plea of no contest to the misdemeanor animal cruelty charge.

In return, prosecutors agreed to drop the felony charges leveled against them.

Both men remained free on $10,000 bonds pending the preparation of pre-sentencing reports by the court’s probation staff. No further court date was set.

District Court Judge Dean Ausilio did, however, deny a request for out-of-state travel made by Chupa on behalf of Francis.

Chupa said his client had an opportunity to leave the state for seven days on a trip arranged previously as a “gift.”

“I’ve got a little problem with this,” Ausilio said, addressing Francis directly. “You’re facing potentially one year in jail. We’ve got to get this court handled and we’ve got to get you back here for sentencing as soon as possible.”

Chupa declined an opportunity to speak on behalf of the men after the hearing.

Warren police arrested both Francis and Ehret Dec. 21 near the U-Haul rental store at 13 Mile and Ryan as they apparently tried to return a pick-up truck used to transport their kill.

Police were tipped off to the slaying of a five-point buck by residents near Jenny and Knapp, south of 14 Mile and east of Van Dyke, who reported seeing men dragging an animal out of the woods on a sled and loading it into a truck.

Officers who stopped Francis and Ehret noted dried blood on their hands and clothing, and deer blood and hair in the rear of the rented truck. A check of their vehicle, a blue Subaru left at the U-Haul location, reportedly revealed hunting equipment including a compound bow, a pop-up deer blind, corn used to bait deer and a propane heater.

Neighbors had reported seeing the Subaru parked on the street near the woods before the deer was killed.
City officials later said the deer was recovered from a home in Wayne County and donated as food to charity.