NEWPORT, VT - Conrad Masse, 76, of Craftsbury, pleaded innocent Tuesday to a charge of aggravated assault for shooting a friend of his during a bear hunting outing in Albany, VT, on Oct. 30 of last year. The charge states that the defendant "caused serious bodily injury to another recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life."
State Police reported that they were called to the scene of the shooting, which had occurred on the Urie Road in Albany, and arrived to find state fish and game wardens on the scene and conducting an investigation.
At this time, the victim, Wayne Goff, had already been taken to the hospital where he was undergoing surgery.
Police spoke with the accused and looked over the scene but came to no conclusions at the time. They noted that Masse had been hunting with two individuals, Goff and Bob Manning, and that Manning had called 911 for help following the shooting.
Masse told police how the shooting had occurred and explained where he had been standing and how it happened he was shooting in Goff's direction. All of the men explained that they had been hunting bear with dogs and that the bear had been headed across the road in the direction of Masse. Masse told police that he found Goff shot and instructed Manning to call for help.
Manning said that Masse was not around when Goff sent Manning to make the call.
Other discrepancies in the story, along with reports from the doctor regarding the trajectory of the bullet, lead police and game wardens to investigate further. Based on their investigation, the game wardens determined that Masse could not have made the shot he claimed to have made from where he said he was standing during the shooting. The wardens asked Masse to return to the scene and walk through it again with them, at which time the accused altered his story.
Based on the investigation, police concluded that Goff was standing in clear view of where Masse was when Masse fired three shots, one of which struck Goff.
Goff sustained serious injury to his pelvis, which, according to the doctors, would cause Goff "long lasting effects to his legs."
Masse was released on conditions, which included that he "not be outside his home with any firearm or dangerous/deadly weapon" and that he report for a DNA sample.