Intentionally Killed with Golf Ball
As you’ll read this story, you’ll see just how sick and self-absorbed Tripp Isenhour is. Not only did he intentionally kill a protected hawk, he then tried to get out of it, eventually accepting no contest plea. So, a killer and a scofflaw.
As stated below, “…Isenhour, 40, created a national controversy when, while filming an instructional video Dec. 12 at Grand Cypress Resort in Orlando, he attempted to quiet the noisy hawk by hitting golf balls with a 7-iron at the tree in which the bird was roosting, about 50 or 60 yards from the set. On about the sixth shot, Isenhour hit the hawk and killed it.”
So, all for a video. Couldn’t he just wait, or even just play with the sounds of the hawk? No, in his mind, his importance outweighed the hawk’s life.
Isenhour accepts plea deal for killing hawk
by Rex Hoggard, Golfweek.com
Updated: August 29, 2008, 10:51 AM EST 66 comments
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ORLANDO, Fla. - Nationwide Tour player Tripp Isenhour has accepted a "no contest" plea agreement for two misdemeanor charges stemming from an incident last year that resulted in the death of a federally protected red-shouldered hawk.
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The agreement requires Isenhour to serve one year of probation, donate $1,500 to the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary in Jupiter, Fla., and pay a $500 fine. The former PGA Tour player also will be required to undergo 40 hours of community service and attend a four-hour anger-management class.
"I'm not denying that the bird accidentally was killed by the golf ball and we're not denying it was wrong," Isenhour told Golfweek in an exclusive interview. "I did something wrong, and I have to take ownership of that."
Isenhour, 40, created a national controversy when, while filming an instructional video Dec. 12 at Grand Cypress Resort in Orlando, he attempted to quiet the noisy hawk by hitting golf balls with a 7-iron at the tree in which the bird was roosting, about 50 or 60 yards from the set. On about the sixth shot, Isenhour hit the hawk and killed it.
According to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission report, witnesses say Isenhour was angry that the bird, which initially was perched in a tree about 120 yards from the set, was disrupting the filming. Isenhour said he attempted to make the bird fly away by hitting two sticks together. He also said he hit three to four golf balls into the tree but could not see the bird.
In contrast to earlier media reports, when the hawk landed in a tree closer to the set, Isenhour said he started hitting golf balls at the hawk again only after members of the crew attempted to move the bird by banging sticks together and throwing objects into the tree.
Jethro Senger, a sound engineer for the informercial who reported the incident to Fish and Wildlife officials, said it was "basically like a joke to (Isenhour)."
Fish and Wildlife officer Brian Baine investigated the incident and said Isenhour was angry that the hawk was disrupting the filming and that the golfer intended to hit the bird.
"It was one thing if he hit a couple of balls, but two elements give it away," Baine said. "The first is that he was unsuccessful the first time and did it again. The second is he didn't call me and say, 'I did something foolish. I killed a migratory bird and I'd like to make this good.' "
Isenhour and other members of the crew did contact the local Audubon Society to inform officials about the accident and were told that if the hawk was not breathing to then bury it.
Sworn statements from other members of the crew collected by Isenhour's investigators do not corroborate the state's claim the golfer intended to harm the hawk or that he was angry.
"He wasn't angry. He didn't come off to me as being angry at all," said Ryan Krause, a crew member on the set, in a statement to Isenhour's investigators.
"He was just like trying to scare it away. He wasn't like, you know, seriously like trying to like hit the bird or do anything like that. . . . He definitely wasn't trying to kill the bird."
Isenhour was charged with two misdemeanors: cruelty to animals and killing a migratory bird. He could have faced fines up to $5,500 and up to 14 months in jail.
In an interview with Golfweek, he said he was happy to have the incident behind him but said he was disappointed in the Fish and Wildlife investigation.
According to Isenhour, whose investigators took statements from eight of the other nine crew members on the informercial set, Baine only interviewed two of the 10 eyewitnesses, Senger and Krause.
Isenhour said Baine attempted to interview him at his home on Dec. 23, but the golfer declined comment until his lawyer was present.
When Isenhour's Orlando-based attorney, David de Armas, attempted to contact Baine in January after the officer had filed his report to the State Attorney's Office, he was informed, "We don't need to talk to (Isenhour)."
"The part that bothers me the most in all this is the conduct of the officer," Isenhour said. "He shouldn't be in a position of authority if you abuse that authority."
Baine said he made a "good-faith attempt" to contact Isenhour's lawyers before submitting his report and also said he interviewed "three or four" witnesses, but he could not recall the names of those interviewed.
"I look at things in perfunctory way. I have no vested interest," Baine said.
Isenhour said he accepted the plea instead of an opportunity to tell his side of the story in court because, "To go through what I went through in March (when the charges were filed), with the media circus and everything I went through, I didn't want to put my family through all that. The fact is, I'm not denying the accident occurred, but it would be very hard for a jury — even though the circumstances are much different than what was reported — it would be very difficult for them to find me not guilty, given the way the law is written."
Reaction to the incident was swift. Animal-rights activists and others called upon the PGA Tour to discipline Isenhour. According to Isenhour, who has played 18 events on the Nationwide Tour this year, the Tour took no disciplinary action. Keeping with its long-held policy, the Tour does not disclose penalties or fines.