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.

Related UPI Stories
Latest Headlines
Trending Stories
N.H. primary polls open: Kasich, Sanders get early leads
5 Reasons why Denver Broncos won't be repeat champions
U.N. report: Syria's Assad guilty of 'inhuman' crimes, gruesome torture, deaths
On heels of E. coli outbreaks, Chipotle spending millions for new ingredient safeguards
Hugh Jackman shows photo of his latest skin cancer treatment