JACKSON CENTER, Pa., May 8 (UPI) -- A Pennsylvania man pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges and was put on probation for shooting a girl he mistook for a skunk, records showed.
Thomas Edward Grant, 25, of Jackson Center, accidentally shot the 8-year-old, a relative, with birdshot when he saw her in the distance on his mother's property Oct. 20. She was dressed in a black-and-white Halloween costume and playing hide-and-seek, which caused Grant to mistake her for a skunk, the Beaver County Times reported Monday.
Grant was originally charged with the felony of aggravated assault, but a judge said there was no proof of malicious intent in the shooting and charges were lowered to misdemeanor simple assault and reckless endangerment.
Grant was sentenced to two years' probation and order to pay restitution to the girl's family. His hunting privileges have been revoked during his probation.
The girl has undergone surgery for spinal and internal-organ injuries and is under medical supervision for lead poisoning from the approximately 100 birdshot pellets that struck her. She may still need surgery to have some of the pellets removed, the Times reported.
The girl's mother told the court she was angry no adults had bothered to find out where the girl was before any shots were fired.