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Possible plea bargain in bison case

October 7, 2008 | 12:25 pm

From the Associated Press:

FAIRPLAY, Colo. — The software CEO from Texas accused in the killing of 32 of his neighbor's bison is considering a plea agreement to settle the case.

Jeff Hawn appeared at the Park County courthouse to enter a plea on Monday with his attorney Pam Mackey. Minutes before the hearing was to begin, Assistant District Attorney Katherine O'Brien asked Mackey to step outside. When they returned for the hearing, Mackey said Hawn, who lives in Austin, Texas, needed 30 days to consider a plea agreement that had been offered and Judge Stephen A. Groome agreed.

Neither Mackey nor O'Brien would discuss the details of what had been offered to Hawn, the president and CEO of Seattle-based Attachmate.

The owner of the slain bison, Monte Downare, said he didn't know what the offer entails but he would like Hawn to pay restitution to help him replace the bison killed, which he estimated to be worth $77,000. He would also like to see him spend time in jail or be convicted of a felony to send a strong message about the importance of Colorado's fence out law.

Like most states in the West, Colorado requires that property owners who want to keep livestock off their land are responsible for building and maintaining fences to keep the animals out. Livestock owners don't have to keep their animals fenced in although many choose to do so to protect their animals in a state that has become more crowded.

"That's where the message needs to be sent. It's the law. It's no different from robbing the bank," Downare said after Hawn's brief court appearance.

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