Suspected poacher sentenced to work release

Express Staff Writer

m6ant2.gif (7361 bytes)Antlers of one elk and two deer used as evidence in a recent poaching case are displayed in the district court in the Kramer Judicial Building in Hailey. The defendant was sentenced on Monday. (Express photo by Willy Cook)

A suspected poacher was sentenced to work release in Fifth District Court Monday, wrapping up a case in which at least one elk and two deer were killed.

Kelly Brace, 39, of Ketchum was sentenced by Judge James May to a suspended jail term. He will serve 60 days in jail with release for work.

Brace will be denied a hunting license for nine years, and the Fish and Game Department will confiscate his rifle.

The defendant was fined $3,000 for the Fish and Game charges, $300 for the firearms charge. He also received two years supervised probation, and was ordered to publish apologies in local newspapers.

The case began when a mature bull elk was found decapitated in September on Bennett Mountain in Elmore County. Idaho Department of Fish and Game officers wanted to know who did it.

Despite television coverage featuring a hunter’s video footage taken before the elk was killed, officials had no leads.

In January, officers got a break in the case.

A Ketchum woman, who had obtained a restraining order against her boyfriend, told a county deputy she wanted to talk to a Fish and Game officer.

When conservation officer Lee Frost interviewed Angela Strolberg, she told him her boyfriend, Kelly Brace, had poached the elk on Bennett Mountain, and she was there when he did it.

It was out of season, in a controlled hunt area and Brace had no license, authorities said.

Although an elk rack had been removed from the wall of her apartment, she pulled a set of velvet-covered antlers out of a closet from a deer she said Brace had poached, Frost said in a recent interview.

Officials did not have to go far to find Brace.

He was already in the court system after being arrested in October on a felony aggravated assault charge for allegedly brandished a handgun during a parking dispute at the North Fork Trailer Park.

That case was bound over to District Court when prosecutors offered Brace a deal.

Rather than face trial on the felony assault charge, Brace pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor exhibition of a firearm charge.

He also pleaded guilty to wasting an elk, illegal possession of an elk and illegal possession of a deer, for the set of velvet covered antlers that were also linked to Brace.

But during a sentencing hearing Monday, when Strolberg was called into court in support of Brace, her story changed.

In testimony that prompted Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jim Thomas to ask her if she knew what perjury was, Strolberg took back her accusations of Brace. She told the court the story she gave Frost wasn’t true. Everything she knew about the elk and deer Brace had told her, she said.

During sentencing, District Judge James May said he had reservations about the credibility of both Strolberg and Brace.


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