WILMINGTON — One of the charges against a man who allegedly shot a state wildlife officer in Clinton County carries potential mandatory prison time, a prosecutor said in court Tuesday.
Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife officer Kevin Behr was struck and wounded Dec. 20 when Brian R. Liming, 44 of the Jamestown area, discharged a firearm while reportedly going after a deer in the woods. At last report, Behr was in stable condition after two operations.
Three men were charged in relation to the incident, and all three had court hearings scheduled for Tuesday. They allegedly were engaged in deer poaching. Wildlife officers were investigating a deer poaching complaint when the shooting occurred, according to the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office.
At Liming’s court hearing, Visiting Judge Gary Dumm informed the defendant of the charges against him and the possible maximum penalties for each, if convicted. Liming said he understood the charges, but he did not enter pleas at his initial hearing.
He was ordered to return for a preliminary court hearing on Jan. 21, 2021.
After the charges and penalties were covered, Clinton County Assistant Prosecutor Katie L. Wilkin said she wanted the defendant and court to be aware that the assault on a peace officer charge has the potential of mandatory prison time because of serious physical harm done to the officer.
Dumm had said the fourth-degree felony charge that alleges recklessly causing serious physical harm to a peace officer has a maximum penalty of up to 18 months in prison and up to a $5,000 fine, but the judge did not refer to any mandatory aspect.
The other three charges Liming faces and their maximum punishments are: having a weapon while under disability (up to 36 months prison and up to a $10,000 fine); no deer or wild turkey permit (up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine); and hunting without permission from the landowner (up to 30 days jail and a $500 fine).
Wilkin indicated in court there’s the potential that prosecution will bring an added charge of tampering with evidence, which is a third-degree felony, and further, add gun specifications to the criminal complaints.
Bryan Achtermann, 36 of the Midland area, waived his right to appear at his Tuesday hearing. A document filed Monday on his behalf by his private attorneys enters pleas of not guilty. He is charged with no hunting license, and no deer permit.
Thomas J. Davis, 35 of the Jamestown area, did appear in court in a sports jacket and tie and plead not guilty to the one charge against him: unlawfully aiding an offender [allegedly Liming] in prohibited activities, to wit, hunting unlawfully on land without permission from the land owner.
The charge is a fourth-degree misdemeanor, and carries a maximum penalty of up to 30 days in jail and a $250 fine.
In the affidavit, Clinton County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Doug Eastes alleged Davis aided Liming “by transporting him [in a vehicle] to a woodline on Macedonia Road near Martinsville Road with known intent to unlawfully hunt deer without permission from the land owner.”
In court papers filed Monday, Davis asks for a trial by jury.
Davis’ 2015 GMC Sierra vehicle was impounded after the incident. City of Wilmington Chief Prosecutor David Henry advised the judge that the county sheriff was not interested in forfeiture of the vehicle, but Henry said he learned just prior to the hearing that the ODNR legal director would like to have the vehicle forfeited.
Henry said prosecution believes Davis knew what Liming and Achtermann were going to do in terms of alleged prohibited activity.
The judge ruled that the vehicle should be held temporarily, and its ultimate ownership will be decided later.
As reported previously, on Sunday, Dec. 20 the three men were traveling on Macedonia Road near Martinsville when they spotted a buck deer in the woods nearby, according to a law enforcement affidavit.
Liming exited the vehicle, went into the woods, and fired a shot, the affidavit states.
“Mr. Liming reports he heard someone screaming so he ran and he found a man with a gunshot wound. The man yelled at Mr. Liming to call 911,” adds the affidavit.
Liming reportedly ran out of the woods, told another suspect to call 911, then Liming reports “he got nervous and fled the scene on foot,” the affidavit continues.
He later came out of the woods and turned himself in to a law enforcement officer.
Behr was transported to a trauma center via medical helicopter.
The affidavit says Achtermann during the incident had gone onto a nearby property in order to shoot “any deer driven toward him by Brian Liming.”
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.