An Annsville man accused of shooting a private investigator with a shotgun after mistaking him for a turkey earlier this year rejected a plea offer Wednesday in Oneida County Court.
The attorney for William Wehnke, 51, of Briarwood Lane, declined to disclose what kind of punishment prosecutors offered Wehnke if he pleaded guilty. Nevertheless, the attorney said his client has no plan to accept guilt at this time.
“It doesn’t matter what the offer is, because he isn’t going to plead to anything – it’s a hunting accident,” Assistant Public Defender Mark Curley said on Wehnke’s behalf. “No offer is a good offer if you’re innocent.”
Wehnke is facing charges of felony second-degree assault, misdemeanor fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, and unlawful manner of taking, a violation that alleges Wehnke was using the wrong type of ammunition for turkey hunting.
Wehnke was charged after he shot 26-year-old private investigator Matthew Brady from New Jersey, who was dressed in camouflage and lying on the ground. Brady had been sent to the Mohawk Valley to investigate Wehnke concerning matters of his workers’ compensation, police said at the time.
The defense says Wehnke shot Brady by accident because he didn’t see the investigator hiding on the ground as Wehnke fired at a turkey and missed. Prosecutors, however, say Wehnke recklessly failed to take the appropriate time and caution to confirm that it was safe to fire his weapon.
Wehnke’s next court appearance in front of Judge Barry M. Donalty is scheduled for Wed., Jan. 13.