Hunting death case set for trial next month.

May 7, 2018

Roger Hoeker, right, with defense attorney Mark Hunting.

Hunting death case set for trial next month.


By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

HART — The case against a 63-year-old youth mentor and former hunting safety instructor charged with reckless discharge causing the shooting death of a 13-year-old Wyoming, Michigan boy is headed to trial.

Roger Erick Hoeker, of 1112 Maplewood Dr., Jenison, Michigan appeared in 27th Circuit Court Monday, May 7, for a final conference hearing with his attorney, Mark Hunting.

Hoeker is accused of shooting William “Billy” Gort, Jr. Billy was shot in the head and killed after Hoeker discharged his rifle while squirrel hunting on state land in near Hesperia Feb. 18, 2017.

He faces up to two years in prison for the high-court misdemeanor. Hoeker was initially facing 15 years in prison for a felony of involuntary manslaughter, but his charge was reduced following a preliminary exam in 78th District Court last December.

Hoeker rejected an offer by Oceana County Prosecutor Joseph Bizon in which he could plead “no contest” and would be sentenced within the recommended guidelines of 0-9 months.

Hoeker was serving as a mentor with a youth outreach program called Christianity Outdoors, and he also was a Michigan hunter safety instructor, according to the Michigan State Police.

Gort was on a hunting trip with Hoeker and another teenager. “The teen hunters were hunting with shotguns, and Roger Hoeker was hunting with a small caliber rifle,” stated an MSP press release. “During this hunting trip, Roger Hoeker discharged his rifle where William ‘Billy’ Gort, Jr. was struck in the head and died of his injuries. Orange hunter safety attire was reported to have been worn at the time of the shooting.”

The shooting occurred near East Cleveland Road and 192nd Avenue in Greenwood Township, according to MSP.

Billy was transported to Hackley Hospital in Muskegon where he was later pronounced dead.

Billy, who was an avid hunter, was a student at Pinewood Middle School in the Kentwood school district.

Hoeker’s three-day jury trial is set for June 13-15.

This story is copyrighted © 2018, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

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