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Tennessee Poachers Caught in Kentucky

Frankfort, KY - When Calloway County wildlife and boating officer Don Bellamy answered a 5 a.m. phone call on a dark January morning, he gave little thought to its leading to a marathon jury trial more than three months later.

But last week, a Calloway District Court jury levied three Tennessee men and one woman with nearly $3,300 in fines after finding them guilty of spotlighting, illegally taking and possessing a deer and possessing an untagged deer.

After a 12-hour long trial, the jury found Christopher Moreno, 26, his wife Tiffany Moreno, 29, and Terry Tanner, 43, all of Paris, Tennessee, and Brian Hinson, 19, of Buchanan, Tennessee, guilty.

Bellamy caught the four with a doe in the wee hours of the morning January 9th that had been shot twice. After New Concord resident Billy McCuiston watched them shining fields near his home and then heard the shots, he got into his own vehicle and began following the violators.

He called the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife poacher hotline (1-800 25-ALERT) and reported the activity. Bellamy was quickly notified and made cell phone contact with McCuiston. He stopped the white Pontiac Bonneville near the New Concord Store.

"Their stories began to fail – to disagree," said Bellamy. "They had two spotlights in the vehicle still plugged in. Then I asked them to open the trunk. It was lined in plastic and there was the deer."

But Bellamy’s biggest surprise was yet to come. Despite possession of the freshly killed deer still before daylight, spotlights, and an eye witness who had recorded their license number as he followed, the four pushed for a jury trial and then called Bellamy’s testimony false.

Tanner, testifying the longest, claimed the group was lost, had not previously been in the New Concord area, and the spotlights were for reading road signs. He claimed they found the deer.

But Calloway County Attorney Jeff Roberts produced Tanner’s 1998 Kentucky drivers license that revealed he was a former New Concord resident, sealing the verdicts.

Calloway District Judge Geanne Carroll fined Tanner $1,000 and court costs, Christopher Moreno and Hinson $600 each and costs, and Tiffany Moreno $550 and costs.

Bellamy is reminding everyone to keep the KDFWR emergency hotline handy.

"Poachers take wildlife that belongs to all Kentuckians," said Bellamy. "We made this case because we were able to respond quickly after receiving the call."

Last Updated: 04/26/05

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