Pennsylvania hunter charged with manslaughter in gunshot death of man, says he mistook for an animal

BEDMINSTER, Pa .– A hunter who shot and killed a man he apparently mistook for an animal in a state park has been charged with homicide and weapons, authorities said.

Kenneth Troy Heller, 52, of Warminster, first appeared in court on Wednesday and was jailed after the judge denied him bail. It was not known whether he had retained the services of a lawyer.

The shooting took place on October 24 in Nockamixon State Park, which straddles the towns of Bedminster and Haycock.

Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub said he believed Heller believed he was shooting an animal and had not intentionally shot Jason Kutt, 18, of West Rockhill.

Kutt, graduating in 2020 from Pennridge High School, was shot while he and his girlfriend sat and waited for the sun to go down in the park. He was taken to St. Luke’s University Hospital in Fountain Hill, where he was pronounced dead.

Kutt’s girlfriend described to investigators a hunter in orange near a gate along Old Ridge Road where the shooting took place, according to Weintraub. It turned out to be Heller, the state attorney said.

In the days following the shooting, investigators asked for public assistance in locating the assailant and released descriptions of three vehicles seen in the area at the time. One of them was Heller’s, Weintraub said.

But Heller did not come forward, according to Weintraub. Instead, someone close to Heller who had seen news of the murder recounted what had happened to an out-of-state friend, and that friend then contacted authorities “and told us where we should potentially. focus, ”Weintraub said.

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