2 men convicted in 'Friday Night Lights' poaching case

Published: Aug. 27, 2015 at 6:51 PM MST|Updated: Oct. 22, 2015 at 6:52 PM MST
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Christopher Ball. (Source: Arizona Game and Fish Department)
Christopher Ball. (Source: Arizona Game and Fish Department)
Christopher Perez. (Source: Arizona Game and Fish Department)
Christopher Perez. (Source: Arizona Game and Fish Department)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Two Tucson men who were arrested in 2014 by Arizona Game and Fish department officers have been convicted and sentenced to jail for illegally killing five deer in Redington Pass, also known as the "Friday Night Lights" case.

Christopher Ball and Christopher Perez both pleaded guilty, according to a news release.

One pleaded guilty to 16 charges, while the other pleaded guilty to nine.

The investigation first began in August 2014 when an archery deer hunter discovered three deer that had been shot with a rifle a day or two prior. One of the deer was pregnant with two fawns.

At the time, it was archery deer season, and no rifle hunts were allowed.

AZGFD officers received a tip about a suspect through a hotline.

Two men were investigated and later admitted to killing the five deer.

The investigation also revealed that the same men had committed multiple other game violations between the summer of 2013 and the summer of 2014, including poaching 15 deer, as well as other small game animals such as reptiles, a hawk, a bobcat and a fox.

Many of the offenses occurred on Friday nights from a truck outfitted with LED lights, prompting AZGFD officers to refer to the case as the "Friday Night Lights" case.

Multiple organizations, as well as a concerned citizen, contributed to a reward fund toward the arrests of the men, with the grand total coming to $3,100.

"Poaching is not hunting, it's theft of wildlife from the state and its citizens," said Regional Supervisor Raul Vega of Game and Fish in Tucson in the release. "We are grateful that those with information about the case came forward, and for the contributions made by groups and individuals toward rewards. With hunting season getting underway, this case is an unfortunate reminder that no true sportsman would tolerate this kind of conduct."

In addition to 120 days in jail, the two men are each required to serve 100 hours of community service and 24 months of unsupervised probation, attend a hunter education class and animal treatment offender program, as well as pay all civil penalties that may be imposed by the Arizona Game and Fish Commission.

Both men were also criminally fined $750.

Anyone with information about wildlife violations are urged to call 1-800-352-0700.

For more information about hunting in Arizona, click here: https://azgfdportal.az.gov/Hunting

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