Guilty verdicts in popular Colorado elk case; former Boulder officer convicted in death and cover-up

BOULDER, CO - A former Boulder, Colorado police officer who killed a trophy elk while on duty, and who failed to report the incident, has been found guilty on all counts.

Jurors reached the verdict around 3 p.m. Tuesday, Scripps sister station 7NEWS Reporter Lance Hernandez said.

Sam Carter was convicted on four felonies -- one count of attempting to influence a public official; one count of forgery and two counts of tampering with physical evidence.

He was also convicted of five misdemeanor charges: official misconduct, aggravated illegal possession of wildlife, conspiracy to commit illegal possession of wildlife, hunting big game out of season and unlawful use of an electronic communication device to unlawfully take wildlife.

During closing arguments, prosecutors said Carter shot the animal so he could mount its head on a wall as a trophy.

Carter's defense attorney argued he "euthanized" the animal because it had become too domesticated and was aggressive. He said he did it in the interest of public safety and never tried to mask his actions.

The defense also argued the state did not prove Carter had a duty to report what happened and called the investigation shoddy and completely "outcome based."

But Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett said the case was about two things.

"It is about an amazing animal," Garnett told jurors during his closing, "and it's about the truth, and how it was handled by a police department officer who didn't want you to know the truth."

Garnett said the wildlife of Colorado belongs to the public, not to the officer.

"No one individual has the right to say, 'I'm going to kill it, sneak it out of here and then mount it on a wall,'" he said.

Garnett said that officers can kill an elk if there is imminent danger, such as a child being trampled.  That was not the case here, he said.

The DA added that after "Big Boy" was killed, Carter quickly destroyed his messages and got rid of evidence from the elk.

He said Carter held up a damaged antler and told an accomplice, former officer Brent Curnow, that the antler was broken.

"Curnow told him,  'If we can find the broken part of the antler, I could fix it for the mount.' They knew what they were doing," Garnett argued.

Following a plea deal last September, Curnow was given a two year deferred sentence, probation and 60 days home detention after admitting guilt to tampering with evidence and possession of wildlife with a trophy elk designation.

Carter's sentencing hearing will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Aug. 29.

Print this article Back to Top

Your Region News
West Valley Phoenix Metro Southeast Valley Northeast Valley Northern Arizona Central/Southern AZ