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The Lawrenceburg man charged with hunting under the influence and second-degree wanton endangerment is now facing a host of felony charges for an incident that took place last September.
David Gaines, 40, of 1040 Lakeshore Drive was indicted last week on three felony counts of first-degree wanton endangerment, along with harvesting wildlife while under the influence.
Gaines was indicted by the Anderson County Grand Jury just days before his Monday trial was supposed to begin in Anderson District Court on the original charges, which were misdemeanors.
Asked why Gaines was indicted nearly six months after the dove hunting incident during which he allegedly shot Lawrenceburg resident and former Fish and Wildlife officer Rex Burkhead, County Attorney Bobbi Jo Lewis said she could not discuss the case, adding only that Gaines was indicted “after consideration by the grand jury.”
The indictment, which was handed down late last week, was presented by assistant county attorney David Nutgrass, who also serves as an assistant prosecutor with the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office. That means Nutgrass will prosecute Gaines in Anderson Circuit Court.
Gaines’ attorney, Kevin Fox, said he never expected an indictment so close to a trial date.
“I was very surprised to learn that this had been presented to the grand jury after all of this time has passed,” Fox said.
The alleged shooting occurred on a public dove hunting field off Gilbert’s Creek Road last September. Burkhead claims in a statement that Gaines fired at him and birdshot from Gaines’ gun “hit him rather hard,” despite a report filed by Fish and Wildlife officers that showed Burkhead was nearly 200 yards away from Gaines at the time.
That report also alleges that when a Fish and Wildlife officer approached Gaines, he could smell a strong odor of alcoholic beverages and noticed Gaines’ eyes were “very glossy and bloodshot.”
Gaines allegedly told the officer that he had four or five beers when he was home, and he had his last beer around noon.
The officer also reported finding six empty beer cans in Gaines’ cooler, one of which had been shot with a shotgun.
Allegedly shooting at Burkhead resulted in one felony charge. The others stem from two people hunting with Burkhead at the time, who did not claim they had been hit.
The alcohol charge shifted from hunting under the influence to taking wildlife under the influence. The latter allows a person who “is manifestly under the influence” to be charged if alcohol is “noticeable to the senses,” according to a Fish and Wildlife media relations spokesperson.
“It’s a tougher standard that driving under the influence,” the spokesperson said, adding that the smell of alcohol on a person alone isn’t enough to charge someone under the statute.