William Hefley, 18, did not appear before Judge Jennifer DeLaney for arraignment on one count of extreme cruelty to animals for his alleged shooting of a protected hawk in Nov. 2012. His lawyer, Stephen Stevers, relayed his client's wish to waive the arraignment, which is the formal reading of charges to someone accused of a crime before moving forward.
The Sixth Judicial District Attorney's Office is handling prosecution of the case. Luna County Sheriff's Office officials originally said the charges may be replaced with federal charges, but the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish took the case and the district attorney's office has taken the prosecution for the state.
Extreme cruelty to animals is a fourth degree felony with possible prison time of up to 18 months and a possible $5,000 fine.
Hefley was initially arrested by the LCSO after the Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012 killing of a five-year-old Harris Hawk, a protected species with a value of $3,000.
Local resident Sherry McDaniel, a licensed falconer, was flying the hawk early that Saturday evening when she heard a gunshot. She had lost sight of the hawk when she heard the blast and began calling it back. When the hawk did not return, she attempted to track the bird with a tracking device but found the bird was no longer moving.
As she moved to the bird's location given by her tracking device, she allegedly saw Hefley attempting to kill the bird as it laid dying on the ground with a pistol, but the shot missed. The bird later died from its wounds from a 20-gauge shotgun.
According to the LCSO, Hefley said he was in the area with the shotgun to put down a sick dog.
A date for his next appearance in court was not announced.
Matt Robinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org