Woman Wins Jury Trial In Charge Of Assaulting Hunters
PLYMOUTH, Mass. (AP) _ A woman accused of shoving two hunters who were stalking geese near her home for Christmas dinner says the awarding of a jury trial gives her a fair chance to be judged by her peers.
″Everyone thinks this is a big joke, but it’s not funny to me,″ Dorothy Checchi-O’Brien said Wednesday after a Plymouth District Court judge granted her a Feb. 5 trial date. ″I want to have a fair chance. I want to prove that their right to kill does not supercede my right to protect life.″
The 53-year-old animal rights activist was charged with assault and battery Dec. 10 after she confronted hunters Michael Veloza and Steven Tyler on Ship Pond behind her home here.
The hunters charge that Mrs. Checchi-O’Brien, who is 4-foot-11 and weighs 115 pounds, demanded they leave the property and then struck them on the chest with her fists.
″I don’t hit women back,″ Veloza said Wednesday. ″I was in shock.
″We were out there, completely legal, pursuing our sport. It’s an age-old sport, but there will always be people who disagree with it,″ he added. ″But nobody should ever be allowed to assault another person.″
Mrs. Checchi-O’Brien said she looks forward to having ″a panel of peers″ judge the case. If convicted, she faces 21/2 years in prison and a $500 fine.
Mrs. Checchi-O’Brien will also be in court March 13 to appeal a magistrate’s dismissal of her counter-charges of assault with a deadly weapon against the hunters. She contends the men threatened her with their rifles.
″I was screaming and hollering ’Get out of here,‴ she said. ″When I couldn’t get them to budge, I thought, ’My God, they’re going to kill the geese right in front of my eyes.‴
″So I walked toward one hunter and I heard this click and I said, ‘Oh you big hunter, are you going to kill me?’ So I pushed him, I pushed his gun away. It was a reaction ... I was in great fear.″
Ms. Checchi-O’Brien charged that the hunters told her they were hunting near her home to punish her for her previous anti-hunting activities.
″He was saying I’m going to teach you a lesson, I’m going to kill every goose on this pond,″ she said.
But Veloza denied her allegation.
″That is the most false statement I have ever heard in my life,″ he said. ″We had no knowledge of who this individual was. I gave her my name and address but she wouldn’t give me hers.″
Veloza said he and his friend were hunting for geese on Cape Cod Bay, a legal hunting area, when they were attacked by the woman. He said Ms. Checchi- O’Brien was never threatened with a gun.
″All we wanted was a goose for Christmas dinner, but we didn’t get any that day,″ he said.