By John Holyoke, BDN Staff •
On Wednesday, as that hunter, Robert R. Trundy, 38, of Hebron, made his first court appearance and was charged with manslaughter in the death of Karen Wrentzel, 34, of Hebron, Spofford’s demeanor had changed.
“I am just very, very angry,” Spofford said.
Wrentzel, who underwent surgery to treat cervical cancer in September, had moved into her grandmother’s Hebron mobile home a day before her own death on Oct. 28 in order to heal and help Spofford through the winter.
Spofford said reading an account of the affidavit filed on Tuesday afternoon changed everything. In that document, Maine Game Warden Anthony Gray alleged that Trundy told him he heard someone scream after he fired the shot, and that he hadn’t rendered aid after shooting Wrentzel.
“Robert stated, after he fired his rifle, what he shot at screamed, and he thought to himself deer don’t do that,” Gray states in the affidavit. “Instead of rendering aid to Karen, Robert called his father by phone and told him he, Robert, thought he just shot someone.”
Spofford said reading the affidavit was devastating.
“He heard her scream. He heard her scream,” Spofford said. “And he knew he’d hurt somebody, but he couldn’t go down and call 911 or go down and say, ‘I’m sorry’? Or whatever? I just don’t know.”
When asked by a reporter what went through her head when she saw Trundy enter the courtroom, she struggled to find an answer.
“He took away my granddaughter,” Spofford said before bursting into tears.
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Trundy entered no plea and gave single-word answers when questioned by Superior Court Justice Lance Walker at Oxford County Courthouse.
His defense attorney, Scott Lynch, cautioned that affidavits tell only one side in a court case.
“I will provide more information about that as the case goes on, but I’ve been involved with this case for all of 12 hours, so it will take me a bit of time to get up to speed with that,” he said.
A woman who answered the phone at a number listed for Trundy’s place of business said he would not comment about the case.
The shooting took place on the residents-only opening day of deer hunting season. Wrentzel was not wearing hunter orange clothing — there is no requirement for nonhunters to do so — and was digging for gemstones on a 15-acre parcel that her grandmother had given her.
Wrentzel’s mother, Debbie Morin of Lewiston, said reading about the warden’s allegations in the affidavit was difficult because she and other family members learned details they hadn’t known. Among those allegations: That Trundy never called for help, and no help was summoned until his father, Ralph Trundy, arrived on the scene minutes later.
“There certainly was [surprising information in the affidavit],” Morin said. “That he didn’t call 911. That he did nothing to help her at the end.”
Morin urged media outlets to stop referring to Wrentzel’s death as a “hunting accident.”
“This is not an accidental shooting. He deliberately pulled the trigger,” Morin said.
Jon Spofford, Wrentzel’s uncle, was visibly upset as he walked down the courthouse steps.
“[Reading the affidavit] changed things considerably. In my opinion that was a total disregard for human life,” he said. “If you’re coming onto my property to kill something, and if you mess up, do the right thing. That’s all. Do the right thing, and make an attempt.”
Wrentzel’s brother, Jeremy Wrentzel of Auburn, said he was growing frustrated with some who have begun criticizing his sister for her clothing choices.
“Just because it’s fall and it’s hunting season, the woods do not belong to the hunters. It’s not a person’s responsibility to wear orange or not go into the woods,” he said. “ It’s the hunter’s responsibility not to fire at something unless they know what they’re firing at.”
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