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Originally published Tuesday, June 2, 2009 at 12:26 PM

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Teen found guilty in Sauk Mountain shooting trial

A teen hunter who killed a Sauk Mountain hiker he mistook for a bear was found guilty Tuesday of second-degree manslaughter with a firearm.

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. —

A teen hunter who killed a Sauk Mountain hiker he mistook for a bear was found guilty Tuesday of second-degree manslaughter with a firearm.

Skagit County Superior Court Judge Susan Cook acquitted Tyler J. Kales, of Concrete, of the more serious charge of first-degree manslaughter, finding he didn't act recklessly.

The hiker, Pamela Almli, 54, of Oso, was killed Aug. 2 on the popular hiking trail north of Seattle. Kales, then 14, was hunting with his older brother, then 16, who also thought he saw a bear.

Prosecutors said Almli was shot in the head as she bent over to put a jacket into a backpack when the boy fired a .270-caliber rifle.

Kales "was painfully honest with the deputy at the scene" Cook said, adding that he wrote in a statement the day of the shooting that, "The shot I took was about 150 yards away and I could only see the outline of bear in the fog."

But Cook said the boy disregarded that he was on a popular hiking trail.

"What he said takes this outside the realm of a hunting accident," the judge said.

The boy, now 15, faces up to 3 months in a juvenile detention facility when he is sentenced July 10.

Defense attorney Roy Howson had argued the shooting was a tragic accident. Although a reasonable adult should have taken the busy hiking trail into account, he argued the same couldn't be expected of a 14-year-old.

Skagit County Prosecutor Rich Weyrich had asked for a first-degree manslaughter conviction. Prosecutors argued the teen didn't follow the state's hunting safety manual.

The teen's lawyer had requested a bench trial, so the judge, who heard the case as a juvenile matter, ruled without a jury.

Almli's death prompted legislation this year, including a measure requiring adult supervision for hunters under age 14 on public land. That bill passed the House but didn't make it out of the Senate in the final days of the session.

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Information from: Skagit Valley Herald, http://www.skagitvalleyherald.com

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