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Saga of trophy elk killed by Boulder police officer ends with no jail time

A trophy elk similar to this one was shot by a Boulder officer.
A trophy elk similar to this one was shot by a Boulder officer.
Getty images

The headline-grabbing case of a former Boulder police officer who killed an iconic elk wrapped up Friday with the one-time officer being sentenced to four years of probation, community service and a fine.

Prosecutors had sought a year of prison time for Sam Carter, who shot the elk in the Mapleton Hill area of Boulder on Jan. 1, 2013. Investigators said Carter and fellow officer Brent Curnow killed the elk with little regard for the safety of others in the area.

Cellphone records also suggest the two former officers had been plotting to kill the elk for more than a week.

Carter told police he shot the elk because he noticed it was hurt, but a necropsy revealed no evidence of injury.

Curnow received a 60-day home detention sentence for his role in the elk’s killing.

The elk had become a common signt around the Mapleton Hill area. Outraged residents marched with signs calling for justice.

Carter was found guilty on June 3 of nine charges related to shooting and killing the elk. On Friday, Boulder County Judge Patrick Butler sentenced him to the probation, a fine of more than $12,000, 30 days on a work crew an 200 hours of community service. He must also pay $10,200 in state wildlife fines.

In a sentencing memorandum, District Attorney Stan Garnett asked Butler to sentence Carter to one year in prison followed by three years of probation and perform 100 hours of community service.

“Carter’s behavior while on duty as a uniformed police officer was reprehensible and he should be sentenced to the Department of Corrections as recommended by the probation department,” Garnett wrote, according to the Boulder Camera (

Butler said such a sentence would have been largely symbolic, since Carter likely would be out on parole in a few months.

During the hearing, Carter himself spoke about the case for the first time in public, reading a letter to Butler in which he said he accepted full responsibility for his actions that night.

PET FAIR PLANNED - The Pearl Street Pet Fair 2014 will be held Sunday, Sept. 14 starting at 9 a.m. The annual event will be held in the 1500 block of Old South Pearl St. during the Farmers Market. Fair-goers will be able to find information on different breeds, receive adoption advice, view demonstrations, gather free pet product samples or just view animals up for adoption.

Participating exhibitors will include rescue organizations, boarding facilities, pet health care experts, natural food suppliers and more. More than 25 groups will be represented.

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