Freeze Warning for all of West Michigan

Mistrial declared in case of teen hunter’s fatal shooting

Roger Hoeker

HART, Mich. (AP) — A judge has declared a mistrial in the case of a 63-year-old hunter safety instructor charged in the fatal shooting of a 13-year-old boy squirrel hunting in western Michigan.

Oceana County Circuit Judge Robert Springstead halted the trial of Roger Hoeker on Thursday. The judge determined neither prosecutors nor defense attorneys knew of a sheriff’s report about the Feb., 18, 2017, shooting.

Hoeker of Jenison initially was charged with involuntary manslaughter. A judge sent the case to circuit court on a lesser charge, reckless discharge of a firearm.

Police say William “Billy” Gort Jr. of Wyoming was shot in the head during a hunting trip with a friend and Hoeker, a mentor for a youth outreach program.

Hoeker’s attorneys requested the mistrial. A second trial will be scheduled.

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