Former Colorado police officer convicted of killing trophy elk in case that ignited emotions

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A former police officer who killed a trophy elk last year was convicted Tuesday of nine charges including illegal hunting.

Former Boulder officer Sam Carter faces up to six years in prison for shooting and killing the animal last year as it grazed beneath a crabapple tree, The Daily Camera reported ( ).

Carter argued that the elk had become dangerously domesticated and aggressive. But prosecutors told the jury that the killing was a case of poaching by an officer who sought to use his position to get an illegal trophy mount.

After shooting the elk, prosecutors said, Carter called a friend and former officer to pick up the elk's carcass and butcher it. They also said Carter later forged a tag to pass off the dead animal as road kill.

"They had no right to use their standing as police officers to poach this animal and lie about it," Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett said.

The killing sparked intense protests in the college town of Boulder, where the shooting sparked prayer vigils and at least one tribute song.

Witnesses who testified on behalf of the elk said the sight of the hulking animal was a highlight on countless hikes and jogs.

The charges included attempting to influence a public official, one count of forgery, two counts of tampering with physical evidence, first-degree official misconduct, illegal possession of a trophy elk, conspiracy to commit illegal possession of wildlife, unlawfully taking a big game animal out of season, and unlawful use of an electronic communication device to unlawfully take wildlife.