Man to stand trial for teen’s hunting death

Posted at 11:45 PM, Dec 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-04 23:45:57-05

OCEANA COUNTY, Mich. — Ten months after a 13-years-old boy was shot and killed during a church hunting trip in Oceana County, the man accused in the teen’s death learned he’ll stand trial.

Billy Gort was shot in February while on a hunting trip with Roger Hoeker.  Police say Hoeker, a church mentor with the program Christianity Outdoors and a state hunter safety instructor, accidentally discharged his small caliber rifle, hitting and killing Gort.

During a court hearing on Monday, the other teen who was on that trip testified that Hoeker fired his gun while trying to hit a squirrel and that the bullet accidentally hit Gort.

The judge eventually ruled that there was not evidence of gross negligence in the case and ordered Hoeker to stand trial for careless discharge of a firearm, a misdemeanor that could result in two years behind bars.

Tom Ambrose, Gort’s grandfather, said the judge’s decision was “very disappointing.”

“You know, I think people get more [jail time] for careless operation of a vehicle than they do for careless discharge of a firearm and murdering somebody,” Ambrose said.

Gort was a student at Pinewood Middle School in Kentwood.