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NJ judge orders turkey killing trial moved

December 1, 2010 3:26:31 PM PST
More than 200 letters from angry residents led a judge in New Jersey to move the trial for two 18-year-olds accused of killing a wild turkey.

James Garner and Garnic Hovannesian were issued summonses for hunting in Rutherford. The case is now being moved to Hackensack.

Police say Hovannesian, with Garner by his side, shot the bird in July. Police say many neighborhood residents had adopted the bird as a mascot.

"Yes, I am sorry for what I did, if I could go back in time, I probably would have rethought my decision, our decision," said James Garner, the defendant.

18-year-old James Garner and a friend allegedly shot the bird in a wooded area in Rutherford.

Neighbors loved the waist high beauty they named "Tom" and now regularly leave flowers where he once lived.

"I love wildlife, I never would hurt anything like that, a turkey, was glad to see them around here, it was something new," said John DeLuca, a resident.

Both teens were arrested and given summons for various things, like hunting within borough limits and needlessly killing an animal.

James told Eyewitness News that both boys came up with the idea but his friend actually shot the arrow back in July.

Since then, more than 100 residents have signed a letter, saying what the boys did was an act of violence, not a boyish prank, and are asking the judge to impose the maximum punishment.

James's mother admits killing "Tom" was a stupid, rash thing to do, but feels all of this has gotten out of control.

"We've had people outside of my house with signs, referred to my son as a murderer, say he should be feathered and killed like the turkey," said Joli Garner, James' mother.

Things have gotten so bad; the judge ordered a change of venue, the case to be heard in central municipal court in Hackensack.

James calls all of the outcry ridiculous.

"I'm not much of an animal person, besides the fact that I'm a vegetarian. Not for normal reasons, I have personal moral issues for eating animals but um,"

"What about killing the animal?" Eyewitness News asked.

He had no comment.

The state Fish and Wildlife Division charged Hovannesian with possession of a nocked arrow within 450 feet of a building, killing a wild turkey out of season and hunting without a license. Both were also charged with animal cruelty.

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Information from: The Record, http://www.northjersey.com

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