Last-minute plea reached in coyote case
BESSEMER — With the trial scheduled to begin Thursday morning, a last-minute plea agreement was reached in the case against an Ironwood Township man facing charges in connection to a YouTube video of the killing of a coyote.
Dale Scott Allen, 46, pleaded guilty to one count of reckless use of a firearm in Gogebic County District Court Thursday prior to the beginning of his trial.
Following the acceptance of the plea, Allen was sentenced by District Court Judge Joel Massie to a loss of hunting privileges through May 1, 2020, the surrender of the revolver used in the video and $825 in fines and costs.
Allen’s lawyer, Karl Numinen, told the Daily Globe Allen will be able to retain his gun after making a donation to Michigan’s Game and Fish Protection Trust Fund.
Allen also paid a $500 bond fee, 10 percent of the $5,000 cash bond posted that can be kept by the court clerk, according to Numinen.
Allen had been facing five counts, including reckless driving, fourth-degree child abuse, reckless use of a firearm and two conservation violations — shooting from a safety zone and taking game from a vehicle.
The other four counts were dismissed as part of the deal.
“We viewed count five, all along in this case, as being the more serious offense of the offenses that were committed,” Gogebic County Prosecutor Nick Jacobs said. He added the deal was reached in consultation with the conservation officer investigating the case.
The plea and sentencing wraps up the two and one-half-year year ordeal for Allen.
“This is over, completely over. All other charges were dismissed,” Numinen said. “No other charges can, or will, ever be brought. That’s the end of this ordeal.”
He added Allen decided to take the plea to prevent his son from needing to appear as a witness.
“One of the considerations for Dale to take this plea deal was to prevent his 15-year-old son from having to testify. His son was 12 at the time of this incident and was involved in this hunting incident,” Numinen said. “We were prepared for trial today. We thought we certainly had a viable defense to all the counts, but one of the considerations for Dale ... was so that his son would not have to testify at trial in front of a jury.”
The case against Allen stems from the discovery of a YouTube video Jacobs said shows Allen and others shooting a coyote after it had apparently been hit by a car. Jacobs said the video was filmed around Jan. 2, 2014, on Lookout Lane, north of Wolverine Village, in Ironwood Township.
While Allen was involved in a different YouTube video showing several hunting dogs killing a coyote, which was the center of the April trial of Jason Charles Roberts, Jacobs made clear the case against Allen wasn’t related to that video.
“It had nothing to do with the prior trial involving Jason Roberts or that situation. Roberts was a separate incident in February of 2014. This happened Jan. 2, 2014,” he said.
The jury found Roberts not guilty of the charges against him related to the February video.
When arriving at the sentence, Jacobs said Massie commented during Thursday’s hearing that the video had also cost Allen his job as a guard at the Ojibway Correctional Facility in Marenisco and required him to retain his own attorney at great expense, and that was factored into the sentence.
Jacobs said he never wanted jail time as part of the potential punishment.
“We didn’t envision any type of jail term being imposed as a result of this case, given the nature of the offense and his prior criminal history, which really wasn’t existing,” Jacobs said. “He took his lumps.”