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Deer spotlighters say they did not have gun

Published 9:37am Wednesday, November 23, 2011

CAPRON—A felon from Elizabeth City, N.C., arrested for illegally possessing a rifle while spotting deer near Capron claims officials never found a gun during a search of his truck.

“I don’t know nothing about a .270 (caliber rifle that was allegedly found by investigators),” Travis Hollowell said Monday.

“We got a gun planted on us,” added his friend Jeremy Lassiter, also of Elizabeth City.

Sgt. J.T. Worrell with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries said Tuesday a .270 rifle was found in Hollowell’s truck, but he didn’t want to say where in the truck, or who the gun was registered to.

“That’s getting into the criminal case,” Worrell said. “I will not give out specifics.”

Department investigators on Nov. 11 and 12 set up a whitetail deer decoy at Pope Station and Indiantown roads after getting reports about someone shooting after dark on Nov. 10.

At 11:30 p.m. on Nov. 12, Hollowell was accused of shining a light on the decoy and having the rifle with him. He also was cited for being a felon, who is not permitted to have a gun. The 27-year-old faces five years in prison for the firearm offense. At no time when spotlighting can a person have a gun.

Lassiter, 26, was also charged with spotlighting without permission from the property owner.

Hollowell and Lassiter have hearings on Feb. 15 in Southampton County General District Court in Courtland.

Hollowell said he and Lassiter saw three deer cross the road and turned on the spotlight to check them out.

“Before I could roll my window back up, there were two wildlife officers who wanted to know if we had written permission,” Hollowell said.

Both said they didn’t know it was against the law to use spotlights on private property without landowner permission because that’s not the case in North Carolina.

“We had no inkling (it was illegal),” Lassiter said.

Hollowell said a three-hour search of his truck followed, and the only thing found of his was black powder for a muzzleloader.

“They didn’t find a gun,” Hollowell said.

“They acted like we were some criminals and all we did was shine a light,” Lassiter added.

The owner of a landscaping business, Hollowell said his felony conviction stems from 10 years ago, when at age 17, he and others broke into several vehicles over a month’s time.

Hollowell said his 2005 Chevrolet Silverado remains impounded.

  • Makalani

    I will not argue for a nanosecond that it does not APPEAR that these guys are guilty after apparently being caught red-handed. That doesn’t mean legal guilt as determined by a judge or jury!

    Amateur CSI sleuths pontificating in a newspaper forum — without ALL the facts — are not the arbiters of legal guilt.

    Even Tarheels allegedly poaching VA deer are entitled to their day in court/justice. I hope they are acquitted once all the facts come out!

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  • FromHere

    Caught redhanded isn’t a presumption of guilt either. It just is.

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  • Makalani

    Because wildlife is involved — these guys don’t get a presumption of innocence? What if they are telling the truth and are innocent?

    Being arrested doesn’t mean one is automatically guilty. Not everyone who is arrested is convicted and imprisoned. Juries acquit people everyday because the PoPo — like other humans — can make mistakes.

    The cyber lynch mob can always reassemble if/when they are convicted.

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  • FromHere

    No, Liberty. The fingerprints could have been put on the gun prior to them ever coming to Virginia. A print doesn’t mean they shot anything here. It just means they handled the gun – which WOULD eliminate the accusation of it being a “planted gun”.

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  • SandMan

    Wrong AGAIN, Liberty…..this is not CSI Miami….it’s not about fingerprints! If it’s the suspect’s gun..of course his prints are on it!
    Good job Sgt. Worrell (Timmy) & all the “possum cops” involved!

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    • chuck

      It would be quite revealing if neither suspects’ prints were on the rifle.

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  • simplifyingit

    SoCo residents….if you want to “curb” outsiders from doing things like this you might need to reconsider posting pictures of our natural resources that you have taken on social media sites like facebook. Tell your friends verbally, have them over for dinner and show off your trophy, but don’t tell the world. I know its hard, but the people who matter in your life know how good of a hunter you are and the others don’t need to know. Or we can just put it in Field & Stream and have everyone in the country looking to harvest our whitetails. Have it your way??

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  • Liberty With Responsibility

    All the officers have to do is find their fingerprints on the gun, and they are convicted, right?

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  • FromHere

    Told you they were stupid. The landscaping business owner said he’d broken into cars over a month’s time? At age 17, that is not public knowledge, as he was a juvenile so he could have kept quiet about it. Guess he thought since he was just 17 at the time, it was OK to do that too.

    And I am very confident that NOBODY planted a gun in his truck. If a gun was confiscated, it was theirs and it was in the truck.

    870magnum, I agree with you too. It was pretty stupid to think anybody believes they drove 60 miles just to shine a light on a deer. If that’s what they did, they’re still supid.

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  • southamptonborn@razed

    How about the fact that this truck with very loud exaust had been described by a lot of local residents as being seen at late hours in areas at or near gunshots.They were being watched.Good job virginia conservation officers.

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  • 870magnum

    These dummies just got in their truck and drove 60 miles to look at deer? Yeah right! I am so happy they got caught before they killed any deer or broke into any cars. Do not worry boys the judge will sort it all out for you and hopefully you don’t see your truck or guns again.

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  • bobs94

    The owner of a landscaping business, Hollowell said his felony conviction stems from 10 years ago, when at age 17, he and others broke into several vehicles over a month’s time.

    Gwen, did you verify this? It would’ve been nice to know if this was a fact.

    “Hollowell said a three-hour search of his truck followed, and the only thing found of his was black powder for a muzzleloader.”

    That’s all they would need to find. What an idiot. Also, it’s interesting to note that this crime carries with it a mandatory two years confinement. The link to the law is below.

    http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+18.2-308.2

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  • chuck

    add another charge: DWS (driving while stupid, or maybe that’s driving ‘with’ stupid).

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  • FromHere

    That idiot just hung himself. He needs to be on the stupid criminal show on TV.

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  • g

    Let me see if I have this right. In Capron from Elizabeth City cruising around in known big buck areas shining a spot light and not up to anything wrong? Boys, I have some nice swamp land I would like to sell you for development purposes. Give me a break. Keep your sorry butts in Carolina before one of good ole boys in Southampton County catches you ourselves!

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