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Jury Convicts Muzzleloader Who Shot & Killed an Archery Hunter

Yesterday, Ronald J. Morosko was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide in the death of Gregory Gabrisch during a fatal hunting incident.  Mr. Morosko, while muzzleloader hunting on Sept. 17, 2021, fatally shot Gabrisch (an archery hunter). The incident occurred in the Lizard Head Wilderness Area of Dolores County, Colorado. The shooting occurred as both men hunted elk during overlapping muzzleloading and archery seasons. The men were hunting separately, and Morosko believed he was shooting at an elk when he hit and killed Gabrisch. 

Morosko is currently free on bond until a sentencing hearing set for March 31. The sentence for criminally negligent homicide, a Class 5 felony, is one to three years in prison, or probation which can include up to 90 days in jail. Additionally, a fine of up to $100,000 may be imposed.

Chief Judge Todd Plewe presided over the case. During the trial, the prosecution argued “Morosko failed to perceive the substantial danger in the woods, that other hunters are in it, doing the same thing, trying to call in elk.” Morosko violated hunting rules because “he did not identify his target.”

Defense attorneys argued the incident was a “horrible tragedy” but did not meet the legal standard of negligence. They added the overlap of archery and muzzleloader seasons and the fact that blaze orange clothing was not required for bowhunters was “senseless” and probably contributed to the accident.

After the trial, the District Attorney said, “We are thankful for the service of the jury, we are pleased with the outcome, and the family is pleased with the outcome. It has been a very difficult case for every individual involved and we are so pleased the jury came to the decision that they did.”

Next, defense attorneys will work with the family on presenting a recommendation for the March 31 sentencing hearing.

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  1. Sad deal all the way around. But, now, maybe this outcome will force people to remember to consider the full path of their projectile and to clearly identify their target before pulling the trigger?! There is no excuse for “mistaking a human for an (any) animal.” And, Colorado, along with every State that does so: STOP overlapping muzzleloading (and all gun seasons) and archery seasons! Common sense.

  2. Very unfortunate series of events for all involved. Two lives ruined and multiple others irreparably affected.
    Gun seasons should never overlap with archery seasons. CO really needs to move the muzzleloader season later in the year.

  3. Brevet Private Billy Masterson


    Can’t do BOTH those things? Don’t try to take the shot.

    If the ML hunter couldn’t see well enough to know A: it’s definitively an elk! And B: Which EXACT PART of that elk I’m aiming at?

    He had no business putting a finger inside the trigger guard. Even if it HAD been an elk, he’d probably have irresponsibly wounded it and lost it.

    Yes, he was negligent. Yes, someone died because he deliberately did something dangerous/potentially fatal to others every hunter has been told NOT to do.

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