Waupaca County Circuit Court Judge Philip Kirk sentenced Rory Kuenzi, 27, to 11 years in state prison Tuesday, Nov. 29.
Kuenzi entered pleas of no contest to three felony counts of cruelty to animals causing death.
In January 2009, Kuenzi and two other rural Weyauwega men, Robby Kuenzi and Nicholas Hermes, were accused of using their snowmobiles to run down and kill deer in the town of Lind.
Rory Kuenzi was initially charged with six felony counts of mistreatment of animals and for stealing the snowmobile he used in the incident.
He is currently serving a 23-year prison sentence for the October 2004 death of a pedestrian, Kevin McCoy. A jury convicted Kuenzi in November 2010 of homicide by an intoxicated driver and of felony hit-and-run.
Kirk said Kuenzi’s 11-year prison sentence for slaying the deer will be served concurrent with the homicide sentence.
Kuenzi was also ordered to pay $1,000 in fines for each of two citations for possession of deer carcasses out of season.
The citations for hunting violations contributed to delaying resolution of the case.
Tom Johnson, who was defense counsel for Rory Kuenzi’s brother, Robby, had argued in circuit court that his client could not be charged with mistreatment of animals because Kuenzi was hunting at the time. Under Wisconsin law, hunting is considered a right and is a protected activity that cannot be prosecuted under the animal cruelty law. Rory Kuenzi’s attorney made a similar argument.
Waupaca County judges dismissed the felony charges of animal cruelty against the Kuenzi brothers. The case against Hermes was put on hold. Prosecutors appealed the decision.
The appellate court overturned the circuit court dismissals, the state Supreme Court refused to hear the case, and the felony cases against the three men began moving forward again in September.
Rory Kuenzi was scheduled for a jury trial on Dec. 8-9, after Kirk refused to recuse himself from presiding over the trial.
During sentencing in the homicide case, Kirk called Kuenzi, “a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal” and “a sociopath.”
Kuenzi’s attorney, Troy Nielsen, argued that Kirk may be biased against the defendant.
Kirk responded that he was being honest about Kuenzi’s character and honesty does not constitute bias.
Robby Kuenzi is scheduled to return to court for further proceedings on Dec. 20.
Nicholas Hermes is scheduled to appear in court for a status conference on Dec. 15.