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September 1, 2013

Hunter sentenced in shooting accident

NEW CASTLE — A West Pittsburg man who shot and killed a bicyclist in 2010 has been sentenced.

Brock Emil Hilke, 24, of 215 Charlemont Ave., was sentenced to nine to 18 months in the Lawrence County jail with credit for one day served, and a fine of $500. Hilke pleaded guilty to a charge of shooting at or causing injury to human beings.

He also pleaded guilty to resisting or interfering with an officer. On that charge he must pay a fine of $1,000.

Hilke also was ordered to pay costs of prosecution, make $948 restitution to the office of Lawrence County District Attorney and $4,498 restitution to the Crime Victim Compensation board and to perform community service.

He will not be prosecuted on other charges, which had included involuntary manslaughter and two counts of making false or fraudulent statements.

According to court records, the victim, Leroy Blashak, 71, was found hunched over the handlebars of his bicycle on Nov. 30, 2010. Officials said Blashak had been riding his bicycle along railroad tracks near Progressive Field in Mahoningtown on Nov. 29, 2010 — the first day of hunting season.

An autopsy revealed Blashak had been shot in the right shoulder and the bullet severed three major blood vessels.

Following an investigation by Jeffrey T. Kendall, wildlife conservation officer with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Lawrence County coroner Russell S. Noga, and the New Castle police department, Hilke was arrested and charged in August 2011.

Authorities theorized early on that Blashak had not been targeted, but was the victim of a hunting accident.

Police described the incident as a hunting-related shooting and called for the individual to come forward, but no one did.

Officers also noted hunting was prohibited in the area where Blashak’s body was found.

At Hilke’s preliminary hearing Oct. 25, 2011, officials noted the victim had long, white hair and was wearing dark clothing on the day he had been shot.

Kendall said he had interviewed several hunters, including Hilke, and had Hilke’s rifle test fired prior to making the arrest.

At the hearing, Kendall testified he had told Hilke, “You saw something white. You shot, thinking that it was a deer.”

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