Hunter sentenced to prison in deadly Nockamixon State Park shooting

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Wednesday, July 7, 2021
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A Bucks County hunter who authorities say shot and killed a teenager at Nockamixon State Park was sentenced to prison on Wednesday.

QUAKERTOWN, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- A Bucks County, Pennsylvania hunter who admitted to fatally shooting a teenager at Nockamixon State Park was sentenced to prison on Wednesday.

Kenneth Heller, 52, will spend seven to 20 years behind bars in the shooting death of 18-year-old Jason Albert Kutt, according to the Bucks County District Attorney's Office.

Heller pleaded guilty on June 7, 2021, to involuntary manslaughter, recklessly endangering another person, possession of an instrument of crime, possession of a prohibited offensive weapon and two hunting law violations.

Kutt was in the park with his girlfriend on October 24, 2020, watching the sunset when he was shot in the back of the head. He died two days later.

"Although the court sent a very strong message of punishment and deterrence in imposing the maximum sentence on Mr. Heller, there are no winners here," District Attorney Matt Weintraub said. "Jason Kutt's death is still heartbreaking. But ending this prosecution with a guilty plea, I hope Jason's family can now remember him and grieve his loss on their own terms, separated from Mr. Heller and the criminal justice system."

In an interview with investigators on December 29, 2020, authorities say Heller admited to firing his .17-caliber Marlin rifle from the area of the gate on Old Ridge Road, and that the projectile from his rifle struck and killed the victim.

Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey L. Finley said the impact to the community, Heller's reckless disregard of the rules of hunting and his failure to report what he had done to law enforcement factored into the sentence.

In addition to the sentence, Heller must pay a $10,000 fine to the victim's next of kin, as part of one of the hunting violations.