Minnesota hunter accused of killing boy in Colorado appears in court

Published 2:07 pm Saturday, October 24, 2015

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — A man accused of fatally shooting a 14-year-old boy while hunting on western Colorado’s Grand Mesa has been served with a federal wrongful death lawsuit.

Guy Pohto of Cook is charged with reckless manslaughter and hunting in a careless manner for the Sept. 13 death of Justin Burns of Palisade.

Burns’ parents filed the suit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Denver.

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The boy died of a gunshot wound to his chest at the Big Creek Reservoir in the Uncompahgre National Forest while bow hunting with his father.

Authorities have found that Pohto was a properly licensed hunter.

During an initial appearance for his criminal charges on Thursday, 59-year-old Pohto waived advisement. The case will return in November.

As he left the courtroom, he was met by a civil process server who handed him a copy of the wrongful death lawsuit.

“I keep this, then?” Pohto asked process server Eric Scott.

“You’re being sued in federal court,” Pohto’s lawyer, Gordon Gallagher, explained.

According to the civil complaint, the lawsuit was filed in federal court because Pohto lives in Minnesota and because the amount of damages exceeds $75,000. The lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages accounting for grief, loss of companionship, pain and suffering and emotional stress.

Burns was described as he was an avid outdoorsman who loved nothing more than spending his time in the mountains with nature and his family.

Pohto declined to comment after the hearing Thursday.