Former Floyd County Animal Control Officer Garland "Buckey" Nester reports to New River Valley Jail in Dublin Friday to begin serving a 140-day sentence after a jury of eight women and four men convicted him of reckless handling of a firearm but acquitted him of the more serious charge of involuntary manslaughter.
Nester’s conviction stems from a May 29, 2008 incident where he fired four shots at a cow that he could not coax back into his rented pasture. One of the bullets struck and killed 75-year-old Paul Belcher, a Connor Grove Road neighbor who was coming to help Nester with the cow.
My full story about the case appears in Thursday’s Floyd Press. Special prosecutor Clifford Hapgood, the Commonwealth’s Attorney of Franklin County, contended Nester fired in anger and in a reckless manner in trying to put down the cow. Three of the four bullets fired from Nester’s 357 semi-automatic pistol hit the cow, killing the animal, but a fourth struck Belcher in abdomen. He died at the scene.
Hapgood said Nester, who once taught the hunter safety course in Floyd County, should have known better than to shoot the cow in the proximity of occupied houses and a nearby road. Defense Attorney David Damico of Roanoke told the jury that no evidence existed to show Nester lost his temper or acted in a reckless manner.
The two-day trial ended shortly before 7 p.m. Wednesday.