By CHAO XIONG, Star Tribune
May 5, 2008
The Belle Plaine man who fatally shot his 8-year-old son in the chest last month while turkey hunting had alcohol and marijuana in his system at the time, according to a felony second-degree manslaughter charge filed Monday.
Anthony Klaseus, 39, told authorities that he told his son, Hunter, to stay put as he circled a field to approach turkeys sometime after 5 p.m. April 19 in a field east of Crahan Lane near County Road 6 in Sibley County, according to charges filed in Sibley County District Court.
Klaseus called to the turkeys. They called back and moved toward him.
"Then I heard something snap or break near me, and a large figure rose up," he told authorities. "I thought it was a turkey, and I shot and it went down. I thought I shot the turkey. Then my son jumped back up screaming and then fell back down."
Hunter, dressed in full camouflage and wearing a hood, looked like a "turkey fanning out," Klaseus told authorities. Department of Natural Resources regulations only allow hunters to shoot turkeys with visible beards, a feathered appendage on the breast.
Klaseus and paramedics performed CPR on Hunter, but he died at the scene.
Klaseus took a breath test at the scene that registered a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.06 percent, the charges said. A urine test taken three hours after the shooting showed an ethyl alcohol concentration of 0.05 grams per 67 milliliters. It also showed that he had marijuana in his system, although the exact concentration won't be known for a few weeks.
Authorities said it's unclear exactly when he consumed the alcohol and marijuana.
Two 12-packs of beer, three six-packs of beer, an empty 24-pack of beer and a marijuana pipe were found in Klaseus' truck at the scene, the charges say. The packs of beer contained empty and full cans.
"That's just one side of the story," said Klaseus' attorney, Patrick Flanagan. "The family is distraught. They're trying to work through the loss of their son. They were hoping the county attorney would come up with a different conclusion."
Flanagan declined to address details revealed in the charges. The family did not want to comment, said Hunter's grandmother.
Hunter's death was the first turkey hunting fatality since turkey hunting began here in 1978. Last year, two people were fatally shot in hunting accidents in Minnesota. All told, in 2007, there were 23 incidents of hunters being shot at in the state.
"One of the 10 safety rules of hunting, besides being sure of your target, is not to consume ... alcohol or be on any kinds of drugs," said Al Thomas, executive director of Turn in Poachers, a nonprofit that promotes safe and ethical sportsmanship. "By following the rules of safe shooting, maybe it could've been prevented."
Klaseus is also charged with felony reckless discharge of a firearm and two misdemeanor charges: trespassing and hunting turkeys without a license. He was drawn to buy a license, but never made the $18 purchase.
Klaseus is scheduled to make his first court appearance May 22. He will not be arrested in connection with the charges.
He was cited by a DNR official for marijuana possession in 1996.