It was "a big mistake," said lawyer Michael Colich on Tuesday in Ramsey County District Court. He was talking about his client's decision to pull the head off a duck that lived in an ornamental pond at the Embassy Suites in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Alcohol was involved.
Colich said his client, Scott Clark, is "a fine young man who made a mistake," and is "extraordinarily remorseful" for what happened to the duck. It seems that Clark and the duck got into an altercation the morning of Saturday, September 22nd, while Clark was staying at the hotel during a business trip. How the fight started is unclear, although who won it is not. According to the report, Clark cornered the duck, grabbed it and beheaded it in full view of a security guard and several other witnesses, who he then turned to and announced, "I'm hungry. I'm gonna eat it."
The report did not say whether the Embassy Suites had snacks available so that hungry guests would have some alternative to hunting and killing the hotel's ornamental waterfowl. If not, Clark might be able to argue the duck was an "attractive nuisance," shifting some of the blame to the hotel. (I didn't say it would work, I just said he could argue that.) At least one person did blame the hotel -- Tim Shields, general counsel for the Minnesota Federated Humane Societies. He called the incident "unconscionable," but was apparently referring to the hotel's decision to have ducks in the lobby, which he said "puts them at risk of being stepped on or run over by suitcases[, or having their heads ripped off by a hungry drunken businessman]."
Clark's remorse, if real, is new, or at least alcohol dulled his sense of compassion at the time. When police arrived, Clark asked them whether he was in trouble. They said yes, which Clark did not understand. "Why?" he said. "Because I killed it out of season? Big deal, it's just a ________ duck." Wrong answer, my friend -- it's still duck season in Minnesota and Colorado. Which does raise the question, I suppose, of why blowing a duck's head off with a shotgun is a sport, but if you follow the duck into the Embassy Suites and pull its head off, it's a felony. At least Clark was hungry.
But according to the prosecutor, whether it was "sporting" was in fact the question. "If he thought this was sport," said County Attorney Susan Gaertner, "he certainly took the sport out of it by going after a domesticated duck in a hotel lobby and ripping its head off. I don't think many duck hunters would consider that 'sport.'" True, but I don't think many ducks would appreciate the difference.
According to Colich, his client now "understands what he did was wrong" (it was the deal with the head) and is doing what he can to make amends. Clark has written a letter of apology to the hotel, paid restitution, spent four days in jail and lost his job, he said, so another two years in jail for duck murder is not a punishment that fits the crime.
Link: CBS News