Lufkin man on trial in deer hunting incident

Jimmy Lee (Source: Angelina County Jail)
Jimmy Lee (Source: Angelina County Jail)

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A Lufkin man is on trial on an accusation he shot a deer without the consent of a landowner.

Jimmy D. Lee, 48, is charged with taking wildlife without consent of landowner.

According to an indictment, Lee shot the deer on the property of Brian Swetnam on Oct. 18, 2014.

In opening arguments Friday, District Attorney Art Bauereiss said a nearby property owner saw Lee carrying a wagon with a deer inside from Swetnam's property. The woman said she tried to approach him, but Lee kept moving, Bauereiss said.

Bauereiss also said Lee told a game warden that he had parked his truck on the property.

"Let's be clear and upfront," said defense attorney Ryan Deaton. "There was never a deer found in this case."

Deaton said the case is one person's word against the other and that Lee's family has had permission for years to park at the property and go through a trail leading to the national forest to hunt.

The first witness to take the stand was an Angelina County Sheriff's deputy named Robert Denby. He responded to the phone call made by Gale.

Denby said he went to the property and blew his horns and sirens and asked everyone to come out of the woods.

Deaton asked the deputy if he were hunting and not doing anything wrong, if he would go through the trouble of getting out of a harness while hunting.

Denby admitted he wouldn't like to move right before the perfect time for hunting.

Swetnam himself took the stand next. He said his neighbors all look out for each other.

"As far as I'd known, no one had been on my property who didn't have permission," Swetnam said.

Once his neighbor said she'd seen a man leaving with a deer, Swetnam called a Texas Parks & Wildlife Department game warden.

Swetnam said he also walked through and looked at the property.

"I didn't see any blood or anything out of the ordinary," Swetnam said.

Texas Parks & Wildlife Game Warden James Barge took the stand later Friday. He said the defendant freely spoke with him when he approached him for questioning.  He said he saw the wagon on the back of Lee's truck that allegedly carried the deer out of Swetnam's property.

"It looked clean," Barge said. "There wasn't a spot on it, as if it had been recently washed."

The game warden asked Lee how he ended up on someone else's property during a recording played as evidence.

"I honestly don't know what you're talking about," Lee responded.

Warden Barge said he noticed several things on Swetnam's property that suggested someone had been on it including a tree with a patch of bark missing, a twisted tree, and a pile of something unidentified that appeared to possibly be blood or feces.

Lee continues to deny being on the private property.

"I was never on the property," Lee said in the recording. "I can show you where I enter and what trail I use if you want."

As the recording continued, the warden asked about the relationship between him and Gale.  Lee said they were married into one another's families for five or six years.

When the warden asked if there was any bad blood between them to cause her to make allegations.  Lee said, "She's stupid. She's crazy as hell."

In the recording, he asked why someone would lie about him being there if he weren't.

The trial is scheduled to conclude Monday.

Copyright 2015 KTRE. All rights reserved.