A hunter who walked away after shooting a teen while he was watching the sunset is charged with homicide

By Haven Orecchio-Egresitz

A hunter in Pennsylvania has been charged with homicide after prosecutors said he walked away after shooting a teenager in a state park. 

The teenager, 18-year-old Jason Kutt was sitting in his car with his girlfriend at Nockamixon State Park when he was shot in October. They were waiting to watch the sunset, Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub said at a press conference.

His girlfriend heard the shot and saw Kutt fall. When she looked down the road she saw a hunter in orange gear looking in their direction, but he fled the scene.

Eight weeks later, prosecutors identified Kenneth Troy Heller, 52, as the shooter. He was charged with criminal homicide, recklessly endangering another person, possession of an instrument of crime, possession of a brass knuckle dagger, and two hunting law violations — including failing to render aid to an injured person.

Heller surrendered to police and agreed to be held without bail. He has reached a preliminary plea deal with prosecutors, and following the consultation of Kutt's family, which will be formalized during his arraignment in April, Weintraub said.

Weintraub said the plea deal allows Kutt's family to move on from how their son died and "celebrate his life," as cases like these can drag on for years in the criminal justice system. 

"By making an agreement today, we get to avoid all that," Weintraub said. "

Jason's family gets to know exactly what happened to him," he said. "They will not like it but they will get some finality of what happened to Jason."

Weintraub noted that this isn't the "perfect ending" to the case, because that would mean that Jason — a 2020 graduate of a local high school — would be alive again. 

"I do not believe that it was Mr. Heller's intent to shoot to kill Jason Kutt," Weintraub said. "He never knew the man, they had no animus, this wasn't a 'Hey, I'm going to try it out and see what's it's like to be a killer' moment for Mr. Heller. He has expressed remorse."

Weintraub said he didn't want to prejudge the case in October, but now that he knows the circumstances he's comfortable that the charges filed are appropriate for Heller's conduct.

"He is a hunter, he hit what he aimed, and he made an awful, awful mistake," he said.