Updated: June 3, 2014 at 7:51 pm
BOULDER — A former Boulder police officer was convicted Tuesday of killing a bull elk that had become a treasured companion in an upscale neighborhood and whose death sparked marches, prayer vigils and at least one tribute song.
A jury found Sam Carter guilty of nine charges. He could face up to six years in prison after shooting the animal known as "Big Boy" last year as it grazed beneath a crabapple tree, The Daily Camera reported (http://bit.ly/1kuVUen ).
Boulder animal activist Jessica Sandler applauded the verdict.
"It is so rare for an animal to get any semblance of justice in our court system," she told the newspaper.
Carter argued that the elk had become dangerously domesticated and aggressive. But prosecutors told the jury the killing was a case of poaching by an officer who sought to use his position to get an illegal trophy mount.
After shooting the elk, prosecutors said, Carter called a friend and former officer to pick up the carcass and butcher it. They also said Carter later forged a tag to pass off the dead animal as road kill.
"They had no right to use their standing as police officers to poach this animal and lie about it," Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett said.
Witnesses said the sight of the hulking animal was a highlight of countless hikes and jogs.
The charges against Carter included three felonies — forgery, tampering with evidence, and attempting to influence a public official. Misdemeanor counts against him included misconduct, illegal possession of a trophy elk, conspiracy to commit illegal possession of wildlife, unlawfully taking a big game animal out of season, and unlawful use of an electronic communication device to unlawfully take wildlife.