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Hunter guilty of misdemeanor in Dec. 22 shooting of woman in vehicle

Clement Gray.JPG.JPG

Clement Gray

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By William F. West
Staff Writer

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

A U.S. Army soldier was recently cleared of one charge, but convicted of a second charge, stemming from a hunting accident in which he shot a woman as she was riding in a truck on West Main Street Extended late last year.

Clement Gray, 21, was found not guilty at a trial on April 23 in Pasquotank County District Court of negligent hunting. Gray was found guilty of violating hunting laws as a result of the incident when he shot and injured Melinda Hurdle on Dec. 22.

District Judge Amber Davis presided at the trial, after which Gray had to pay $246 in court costs. Defense attorney Michael Sanders of Elizabeth City, who represented Gray, declined comment when reached late last week. Gray, who lists an address in Clarksville, Tenn., couldn’t be reached on his cell phone late last week.

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission website specifies that in Pasquotank County hunters using a centerfire rifle must be elevated on a platform which raises the lower level of the barrel to a minimum of eight feet above the ground. 

Gray had also been charged with reckless use of a firearm. District Attorney Andrew Womble, in a brief email late last week, said the prosecutor in the case, Assistant District Attorney Kyle Jones, had dismissed that charge prior to the start of the trial. Womble said all the elements of the charge of reckless use of a firearm were also present in the charge of negligent hunting.

Womble declined comment about the outcome of the case.

A Pasquotank magistrate's warrant, issued in the case against Gray, stated Hurdle suffered bodily injury leading to partial permanent disability.

Sheriff Randy Cartwright said Gray has family connections in the area.

Cartwright said the errant shot resulted after Gray climbed down from a stand in a tree and was walking on a path when a deer ran out in front of him. Cartwright said Gray fired, but the shot missed and the bullet went toward West Main Extended.

According to Cartwright, Hurdle's husband, Andrew Hurdle, was driving a 2004 Ford F-150 on West Main Extended, toward U.S. Highway 17/158, and the couple was near Berea Church Road.

Cartwright said after the couple heard a popping sound, Andrew Hurdle saw his wife slumped over and discovered she had been hit in the back.

Cartwright said Melinda Hurdle was transported to Sentara Albemarle Medical Center and then on to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Virginia, where she was treated and released.

Gray turned himself in to law enforcement on Jan. 13 and went free on a $5,000 unsecured bond.

Due to the case involving misdemeanor offenses, the trial of Gray late last month was held in Pasquotank District Court.   

The case could be headed to Pasquotank Civil Court. According to the Pasquotank District Court criminal records, G. Wayne Hardee, a Greenville attorney whose specialty includes personal injury cases, told District Attorney Womble's office he’s representing Melinda Hurdle in a liability claim.

"Please keep us informed of the status of the criminal case so that we can be sure that our client is available to assist you and that we can provide any assistance to you," Hardee wrote in an email, which was dated March 19.

Hardee couldn't be reached for comment late last week.

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