Police officer charged, tried and sentenced for unlawful killing


His victim was an elk. "Sending a cop to prison is a very tricky thing," said Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett.

Jurors deliberated for about four hours before convicting Sam Carter on all nine counts he faced, which also included forgery and tampering with evidence.

Carter shot "Big Boy" the bull elk with his buckshot-loaded shotgun as it grazed on fallen crabapples, and then called in a friend and fellow officer to help remove it as horrified neighbors watched Jan. 1, 2013. Defense attorneys argued the elk was injured and had to be put down to protect the community.

And yet, there was what Garnett referred to above: the fact that this one won't be going there despite multiple felony convictions.

Carter — now a convicted felon — was allowed to walk out of Boulder courtroom Friday a free man.

Carter, 37, was spared prison time when a judge sentenced the disgraced officer to four years of probation and 200 hours of community service, bringing to a close one of Boulder's most contentious and scrutinized cases in recent memory.

An interesting remark from the judge, who has an interesting opinion about short sentences:

Prosecutors had sought one year in prison, Boulder District Judge Patrick Butler said such a sentence would have been largely symbolic, since Carter likely would be out on parole in a few months.

"I am not interested in symbolic gestures," Butler said during Friday's sentencing hearing. "I want the sentence to benefit the community that was harmed."

Perhaps this is what Judge Butler's peers were talking about when they said that he "favored the speedy resolution of matters over reaching a correct result."