Crime & Courts

Hope man charged with manslaughter in shooting death of hunting partner near Chicken

A Hope man was charged with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide Tuesday for shooting someone he had been hunting with near Chicken earlier this month, charges said.

Robert Geller, 42, had been hunting with 74-year-old Michael Easley of Wasilla and his son Kevin Easley on Sept. 11 about 8.5 miles from the Taylor Highway at the time of the shooting, according to an affidavit filed against Geller.

Around 8:50 p.m. that day, Michael Easley was walking toward a valley where he’d shot a moose earlier as Kevin Easley and Geller started calling for moose from a rocky perch, the affidavit said. Kevin Easley and Geller noticed bull moose coming toward their camp, and Kevin Easley warned Geller to be careful because his father was not in the tent or at camp, the affidavit said. He told Geller not to shoot, and the affidavit said both men agreed not to shoot because of the darkness.

The two men saw a moose about 100 yards to their right but heard something closer to them in the brush, and Geller said he could see the moose “before surprisingly shooting his rifle,” the affidavit said.

Michael Easley was shot and yelled out immediately, the affidavit said.

Troopers received a call for help from a satellite communication device around 9:19 p.m. and an Army helicopter crew arrived to transport Michael Easley to a Fairbanks hospital, where he was pronounced dead, troopers said in an online report.

Geller later told investigators he could not clearly see what he was shooting at, the affidavit said, and investigators found that Michael Easley was shot 21 yards from the rocky perch where Geller had fired his rifle.

Geller was arrested Tuesday at his home in Hope and is being held at the Anchorage Correctional Complex, troopers said.

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