Bear killer granted accelerated rehabilitation

A Superior Court judge in Norwalk Jan. 10 granted alleged bear poacher Antonio Lio of Wilton accelerated rehabilitation, a pre-trial intervention program that will place him on probation for two years, after which his record will be expunged.

Lio, 28, must avoid further arrests for the next two years and his hunting license will be suspended for the duration.

He must also perform 40 hours of public service within the next year, according to the ruling by Judge Alex Hernandez.

He was facing two counts of illegal taking of black bear and one count of fourth-degree negligent hunting.

“These are serious charges, as you can see from the public reaction,”  Hernandez told Lio, who stood silently beside his attorney, Kevin Black of Wilton. Hernandez was referring to the animal rights protesters who appeared outside the courthouse on each of his court dates, including the one Jan. 10. There was also a lot of news coverage.

“But these charges are not so serious that you should be denied the accelerated rehabilitation program,” the judge said, pointing out that Lio had no previous criminal record and had several letters of support for his acceptance into the program. It is a program intended for first-time offenders.

Black told the judge why Lio killed the two bears, something that had not come out previously. He said Lio’s wife was pregnant, and on the day before the incident, had become hysterical over the sight of the two black bears near her home.

Lio acted to protect his family, Black told the judge.

The outcome did not go over well with animal activists.

“His actions suggest premeditation to trophy hunt,” said Annie Hornish, Connecticut state director for the Humane Society of the United States. She sat in the courtroom observing the proceedings.

“We’re disappointed that he got accelerated rehabilitation,” Hornish said.

A group of protesters stood outside the courthouse holding printed signs proclaiming animal rights while the proceedings took place.

If Lio abides by the terms set by Hernandez for the next two years, it brings to an end the drama that began last Sept. 16, when officers from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Environmental Conservation (EnCon) Police responded to a report of a bear killing in Wilton. They found Lio exiting the woods allegedly carrying a bear skin, head and paws stored in his backpack. He was accompanied by Daniel Moran, 33, of Norwalk.

Moran on Nov. 30 pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit illegal taking of black bear, and subjected himself to the maximum penalty, a $500 fine.

The animal rights activists promised to work toward having crimes against animals be taken more seriously in the legal system.

Jill Alibrandi of Redding, left, and Marguerite Tucker O’Connor of Wilton hold up their protest signs outside the State Superior Court in Norwalk Jan. 10. — Tony Spinelli photo

 

1 thought on “Bear killer granted accelerated rehabilitation

  1. “Black told the judge why Lio killed the two bears, something that had not come out previously. He said Lio’s wife was pregnant, and on the day before the incident, had become hysterical over the sight of the two black bears near her home.” (HER home? Not his or their home?) nnnn I find it very convenient to come up with such an explanation at the time of sentencing; IF the sight of two bears was indeed so frightening to this brave poacher, one would think that this little tidbit would have been offered at the time of the arrest. IF the scary sight of the two bears was indeed so threatening, why did Lio wait until the next day to kill them? I would definitely agree with HSUS’s Ms.Hornish that waiting until the next day to kill the two bears strongly suggests premeditation.nnnMoran’s $500 fine won’t be a great deterrent in the future, in fact, it seems like a great bargain compared to Lio’s 2 years of AC and 40 hrs. of community service.nnnThe big problem is that poaching laws have been extremely weak; stronger laws, commensurate with the gravity of each case, are long overdue. Judges’ general views/sentencing in poaching cases are definitely lacking teeth!

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