SALEM, Ore., Feb. 23 (UPI) -- A jury has acquitted an Oregon bear hunter of manslaughter in the shooting death of another man.
A jury deliberated about 2 hours Friday before clearing Eugene Collier, 68, of Turner of second-degree manslaughter in the Oct. 21, 2011, shooting death of Christopher Ochoa, the Salem Statesman Journal reported.
Collier's defense was that he thought he was shooting a bear when he fatally wounded the 20-year-old Ochoa, who he said appeared as a dark figure "on all fours" on the edge of his family's property.
Ochoa was a Marine reservist from California who was in Oregon to help a friend, Raymond Westrom. The pair had gone to see the South Falls at Silver Falls State Park the night Ochoa was shot.
"I made a terrible mistake. It was a tragic accident, I didn't mean for it to happen," Collier said. "I'm terribly sorry.
"I look and there's something on its hands and knees. It looks like a bear. I adjust to the target, then shoot it. I'm still certain it's a bear."
Collier said it wasn't until he got closer that he realized he had shot someone.