Shooter says he mistook woman for bird

March 31, 2012 at 2:15 PM

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo., March 31 (UPI) -- A Colorado man who shot a woman in the head after mistaking her red Mohawk hairdo for a bird has been placed on probation, authorities say.

Derrill Rockwell, 49, of Grand Junction, was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay more than $10,000 in restitution Friday after pleading guilty to felony possession of a weapon by a prior offender, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported. Several other related charges against him were dropped, the newspaper said.

"This was a tragic accident, and I'm truly sorry," he told the judge.

Rockwell, who was banned from owning a gun for a 1995 attempted burglary conviction, told police he had gone outside with his .22-caliber rifle Oct. 5 to shoot a bird that had been harassing his cats. He shot once at what he thought was a red bird on a hilltop about 90 feet away, then heard a woman moaning in pain. He discovered a 23-year-old woman with a head wound.

Deputy District Attorney Jason Conley told the presiding judge the woman may have been passed out from intoxication prior to being shot. He said investigator found a small bag of suspected methamphetamine nearby.

Conley said the victim, who didn't attend Rockwell's hearing, has left the state. The newspaper said it was unable to contact her.

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