Deer hunters sentenced to time in federal prison

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 11, 2000

Four Warren County men were sentenced to prison stays Tuesday in Vicksburg on federal charges for their part in illegally killing and transporting deer.

Redwood residents Lewis E. Howell Sr., 49, Timothy S. Howell, 20, Lloyd D. Palmer, 31, and Vicksburg resident Billy K. Hearn, 34, had all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act June 20 in Vicksburg.

Palmer and Timothy S. Howell were each sentenced to three months in prison and three years’ probation. They were also assessed a $500 fine each. Hearn was sentenced to four months in prison and also must pay a $500 fine. Lewis E. Howell was sentenced to six months in prison and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.

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Before being sentenced by U.S. District Judge David C. Bramlette III, each was given the opportunity to speak.

Vicksburg attorney Travis T. Vance Jr., who represented Hearn, said, “My client has accepted what he did and has moved out of the Redwood community, so he is no longer tempted by those activities,” Vance said. “He was raised in rural Warren County where some activities are a way of life.”

The fact that Hearn can no longer hunt, since he is a convicted felon and by law can’t be in possession of a gun, is punishment enough, Vance said.

“This young man grew up hunting and fishing, and now he can’t do that and that is quite a punishment,” Vance said.

Jackson attorney Arnold Dyer, who represented the younger Howell, said his client was influenced by his father, Lewis E. Howell Sr.

“Hunting in and out of season is a way of life for him,” Dyer said. “Sons do what their fathers do.”

The arrests of the four men came after a two-year undercover operation in which federal authorities videotaped the men and three others killing deer by using illegal weapons and by spotlighting. The tapes also showed meat being sold to Louisiana residents.

“I think the judge sent a good message that if you violate wildlife laws you will be punished appropriately,” said Robert L. Oliveri of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Before sentencing, Bramlette said the men had done more than break the law.

“These types of activities such as night hunting affect the wildlife population, and that hurts everyone,” he said.

Evidence presented in June by U.S. Attorney Woody Bond said undercover agents purchased 32 deer from the Howells, Palmer and Hearn from January 1999 to February of this year.

In sentencing the elder Howell, Bramlette singled him out as the ringleader.

“I think you have been involved in these types of activities for a very long time,” he said.

All four must begin serving their sentences on Jan. 8, 2001.

Daniel Martin, 42, Harvey, La., Darrell Triche, 50, Alma, La., and Charles Jones, 46, Natchez, also pleaded guilty in June to conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act. They will be sentenced Oct. 23 in Natchez.