State: Goat Killed for Revenge
Trial Begins for Hartland Man Accused of Killing Game Warden’s Goat
Nick Ashline, of Hartland, who allegedly paid a man to kill goats belonging to Majeski, sits during his trial. Ashline faces three charges of accessory to a crime and two charges of obstructing justice. (Valley News - Libby March) Purchase photo reprints »
Vermont game warden Stephen Majeski listens as defense attorney Peter Decato cross-examines him during the trial of Nick Ashline, of Hartland, at Windsor Superior Court in White River Junction on Wednesday. (Valley News - Libby March) Purchase photo reprints »
Daniel Parry, of Windsor, who was convicted of killing a goat belonging to game warden Steve Majeski and his family, testifies against Nick Ashline on Wednesday. (Valley News - Libby March) Purchase photo reprints »
Hartford — A man who previously admitted to killing a local game warden’s goat took the witness stand on Wednesday and said he was paid $100 to commit the act by the man allegedly behind the plot.
A trial began Wednesday for Nicholas Ashline, who is accused of paying Daniel Parry to kill Vermont State Game Warden Stephen Majeski’s goats because Ashline was allegedly angry at the game warden for investigating him on another matter.
Ashline, 35, of Hartland, faces up to 29 years in prison on five charges, including three charges of accessory to a crime and two felony charges of obstructing justice.
Ashline’s defense attorney, Peter Decato, told the jurors in Windsor Superior Court that his client is innocent of the charges.
“Different people called by the defense and the state will say diametrically opposite things,” Decato said. “And it will be your job to decide which version is the truth. In this case, it’s important for you to know Nick Ashline is innocent of all five charges. He did not give money to Dan Parry to kill the goats.”
Daniel Parry, of Windsor, has already pleaded guilty in April 2012 to two charges of animal cruelty and two unrelated charges of petty larceny. He was sentenced to a minimum of three months and a maximum of three years and six months in prison. He was ordered to spend only one month in prison and to serve the remainder of the minimum sentence in home confinement. He took the witness stand on Wednesday.
The jury, made up of 10 men and four women, listened to opening arguments in a trial that is scheduled to run the rest of the week. (Two of the jurors are alternates.)
The prosecution, led by Assistant Attorney Generals Cathy Norman and Evan Meenan, is trying to prove that Ashline paid Parry to kill Majeski’s goats.
“This case is all about who is responsible for the attack on those two goats and why. Think about the motive,” Meenan told the jury in his opening argument.
In court, Parry said that on Oct. 29, 2011, he stabbed Majeski’s two goats, Moose and Milkshake, killing Moose, a lamancha and boer mix breed. Milkshake survived the attack.
Under questioning, Parry said Ashline offered him money, but didn’t give a set price. He said he attacked the goats because he wanted money to buy drugs, acknowledging that he’s addicted to oxycontin. Parry also said he was drunk that night and had taken about 10, 30 milligram oxycontin pills.
According to court documents and testimony from various witnesses in court, Ashline, Parry and several other men were drinking beer in Ashline’s garage before five men, including Ashline and Parry, got into Ashline’s truck and drove to Majeski’s home in West Windsor.
Parry got out of the car and then used a knife to cut the two goats’ necks.
Parry said he wasn’t paid right away, but ultimately was given $100 from Ashline in the following days.
During his opening argument, Decato pointed out that there is no physical evidence that Ashline ever paid Parry. There are no canceled checks, just Parry’s word.
During Decato’s cross-examination, he challenged the credibility of Ashline’s alleged agreement to pay Parry.
“Was this discussion in a joking manner?” Decato asked.
“In a way, you could say that,” Parry said. “I don’t think people took it serious at first. It took a bad turn to serious.”
But under questioning, Parry said he expected to be paid.
Two other men who were in the car with Parry and Ashline were also called to the witness stand. Colby Bowen said he heard Ashline tell Parry that he would get paid for killing Majeski’s goats. He added that Parry got paid, but he did not witness it.
James Punger, who is engaged to Ashline’s sister, was also in the truck and took the witness stand. Punger said he got in the vehicle because Ashline had recently bought a new truck and he and Ashline had discussed taking it out for a drive to see how it handled in the snow.
Under questioning, Punger said he did not hear conversations about people killing goats while he was in Ashline’s garage.
Majeski and his wife, Carolanne, also took the witness stand. Majeski described an incident that occurred in 2010 when he was investigating two people, including Ashline, for illegally hunting deer. During his investigation, Majeski was confronted on the phone and in person by Ashline, saying, “You’re throwing my name around about jacking deer ... I know where you live (explective).”
Ultimately, no charges were filed against Ashline for deer jacking.
One of the obstruction of justice charges against Ashline wasn’t filed until this spring and it alleges Ashline threatened a potential witness.
Ashline lives on the same dirt road as his cousin, Kim Sweeney, in Hartland. One night in March when Ashline was driving on the road, he allegedly came upon Sweeney driving in the opposite direction and drove into her lane of traffic, forcing his cousin to swerve off the road.
During Decato’s opening statement, he said that Ashline was 100 miles away at the time of the incident and it was actually his wife who was driving the vehicle. More testimony about that charge will be presented this week.
Decato also said in his opening statement that is unclear whether Ashline will take the witness stand.
Sarah Brubeck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article has been amended to correct earlier errors. Daniel Parry, of Windsor, testified in the trial of Nicholas Ashline on Wednesday. Additionally, Colby Bowen testified that he heard Ashline tell Parry that he would get paid for killing the goats but did not witness and exchange of money. Parry's last name was spelled incorrectly in an earlier version of a photo caption associated with this story, and a summary of Bowen's testimony was previously garbled.