A family mourns the loss of their 15-year-old son, after an early morning hunting accident in Henry County.
"He's sick; he's bad. He says he'll never hunt again at this time." That's what Henry County Sheriff Will Maddox said of 18-year-old Michael Newman, who fatally shot his friend and hunting partner Joey Dresher.
The two had split up over an area of about a square mile in a wooded area north of Shorterville. Their trip came to an end when a round from Newman’s bolt action high powered rifle struck Dresher in the upper chest.
"At the time he shot, he could not see the victim,” said Maddox. “He was shooting at the deer and he heard the victim holler; that's when he started looking for him."
That was the story from Newman in the morning. But later that afternoon in the Sheriff's Office, the emotional teenager told investigators there was no deer.
Dresher was walking through thick brush and Newman fired on movement; at the last second realizing he hit his friend.
"It was a case of a victim being mistaken for game," Maddox said. "He thought that Joey was a deer and he fired at him, hit him in the chest and killed him."
Initially, investigators thought the distance between the two was over 100 yards, but that distance was considerably shortened after Newman changed the story.
Hunters orange could have made a difference, but Dresher’s hat was covered by his camouflage hood.
"This one this morning, if they had communications and if he’d a stayed in his tree stand and not walked in front of the other hunter, he might still be here today," Maddox concluded.
Authorities say Newman will be charged with manslaughter.