Robby Kuenzi, one of three Weyauwega men involved in the slaughter of half a dozen deer with a snowmobile in January 2009, was placed on 30 months of probation.
Kuenzi appeared before Judge John Hoffmann Thursday, May 24, for sentencing. He had entered pleas of no contest in April to three felony counts of cruelty to animals and three misdemeanor counts of hunting deer out of season.
Hoffmann ordered Kuenzi to spend six months in jail with work release privileges and pay $2,108 in fines and court costs on each of the three misdemeanor hunting violations. He also prohibited Kuenzi from hunting, fishing or trapping for three years.
During the hearing, Assistant District Attorney James Fassbender described how Kuenzi ran over a deer with his snowmobile and when it became stuck, he gunned the engine and gutted the deer. Another deer was dragged behind a snowmobile and tethered to a tree.
Fassbender asked the judge to consider the depravity of the behavior and to revoke Kuenzi’s hunting and fishing licenses for at least six to nine years.
“While it was cruel and depraved, it was not an assault on a human being,” said Tom Johnson, Kuenzi’s defense attorney.
“I’m not saying this is a justifiable method of killing animals,” Johnson said, noting, however, that the state not only allows but encourages the killing of wildlife by issuing permits to hunt, fish and trap. “I think they suffer, regardless.”
Johnson also asked that the 26-year-old Kuenzi’s felony conviction be expunged from the record if he successfully completes probation. Kuenzi had no prior juvenile or adult criminal record, was the primary custodian of two young daughters, had joined the National Guard and was working full time, Johnson said.
“He’s a wonderful young man who made a terrible mistake,” Johnson said. “His life has been inalterably changed.”
Reading from the pre-sentencing investigation prepared by the Department of Corrections, Hoffmann noted that “the primary victims in this case may not have been human but they were living creatures who were brutally tortured and left to die.”
Hoffmann said the incident brought shame to the community, as well as to the three men who had been involved.
The other two men were Nicholas Hermes, whose is on probation for the same crime, and Robby Kuenzi’s brother, Rory Kuenzi, who is currently serving 23 years in prison for causing a hit-and-run death in 2004.
Hoffmann said Kuenzi was a suitable candidate for probation because he had no prior record, had not violated the terms of his bond for over three years and was the primary provider for his two daughters.
“I don’t think under the circumstances that he is a danger to the community and needs to be incarcerated,” Hoffmann said.
Hoffmann also ruled that Kuenzi’s felony record would be expunged if he successfully completes his probation.
“if it is expunged, the only thing that is expunged is the court record. Other records will not be expunged,” Hoffmann said, adding that Kuenzi’s name will be associated with the incident for the rest of his life.