Animal cruelty cases move forward
The Wisconsin Supreme Court declined to review an appeal in the deer-slaying case against Rory Kuenzi.
In January 2009, Rory Kuenzi, 27, along with his brother, Robby Kuenzi, 25, and Nicholas Hermes, 25, all of rural Weyauwega, were accused of running down and killing five deer with their snowmobiles in the town of Lind.
The three men were charged with felony cruelty to animals. They were also cited for hunting violations.
Robby Kuenzi’s attorney, Tom Johnson, argued before Waupaca County Circuit Court Judge John Hoffmann that his client could not be charged with mistreatment of animals because Wisconsin Statutes Chapter 951 also says that the animal cruelty law cannot be applied to hunting as defined by Chapter 29. And Chapter 29 broadly defines hunting to include “shooting, shooting at, pursuing, taking, capturing or killing or attempting to capture or kill any wild animal.”
Rory Kuenzi’s attorney made a similar argument. Both Hoffmann and Judge Philip Kirk, who was presiding over Rory Kuenzi’s case, dismissed the felony charges against the Kuenzis. The Hermes case was put on hold, pending a decision from the appellate court.
The state appealed the circuit court decisions.
The District IV Court of Appeals reinstated felony charges against Rory and Robby Kuenzi on Feb. 24. The appellate court noted that the cruel mistreatment of animals must be viewed in the context of common hunting practices. The decision took issue with the defense argument that Chapter 951 prohibits the state from prosecuting hunters for mistreating wild animals “no matter how cruel and senseless” their methods.
The Court of Appeals ordered the circuit court to reinstate the felony charges and move forward with the cases against Rory and Robby Kuenzi.
Rory Kuenzi’s attorney requested that the Supreme Court review the case. The Supreme Court declined and now the felony animal cruelty cases against the three men will move forward.
In the case against Rory Kuenzi, a status conference is scheduled before Judge Kirk on Oct. 5. Robby Kuenzi’s case is scheduled for a status conference with Judge Hoffmann on Oct. 18. Hermes is scheduled for a review hearing before Judge Raymond Huber on Oct. 17.