MAYVILLE – The Sherman man who pleaded guilty to accidentally shooting and killing his neighbor in 2017 has been sentenced to 1 to 3 years in prison.
On Monday Chautauqua County Judge David Foley announced the sentence for Thomas Jadlowski, who shot 43-year-old Rosemary Billquist while he was hunting and after mistaking her for a dear during the early evening of Nov. 22. Billquist had been in a field next to her home walking her dogs when the incident occurred.
The sentence came after Jadlowski pleaded guilty in October of last year to criminally negligent homicide and hunting after sunset. It also came after District Attorney Patrick Swanson met with the victim’s husband, Jamie Billquist, who told the DA he wanted Jadlowski to be held accountable and also to apologize for his actions.
Jadlowski did provide a written apology but was unable to read it aloud prior to being sentenced. Instead his attorney read it on behalf of his client.
“I would like to say that not a single day does not go by that I do not think about what I have done. I would like to send my love and prayers to Rosemary’s family,” The statement read. “From Day One, I’ve been advised by law enforcement and my attorney not to have any contact with the victim’s family. I would like to apologize for that. I should have reached out sooner. Today I would like to say that I am sorry from the bottom of my heart. I know that sorry will not fix what I have done. I just hope that someday you all can forgive me for what I have done.”
Judge Foley said he recognized the nature of what Jadlowski had done and took that into account. He said he knew that the shooting was not intentional.
The length of the sentence will be decided by the state parole board. Swanson said Jadlowski has been credited with more than three months of time served since he pleaded guilty on Oct. 4.
In a media release sent out by the DA’s office, Jamie Billquist said, “This has never been about vengeance. That is not what Rosie would have wanted. From the beginning I wanted the defendant to take responsibility and be held accountable. I want the next hunter who thinks about shooting after hours to think, ‘There was this guy that went to prison. I should just go home.'”
Swanson added, “I offer my heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Rosemary Billquist. This senseless tragedy no doubt has changed many lives. My hope is that this brings some closure to Jamie and Rosemary’s loved ones.”
Swanson said he also consulted with Billquist prior to Monday’s sentencing.
“Jamie and I have spoken regularly regarding a disposition acceptable to both him and his family. We always have been comfortable with a 1-3 year sentence so long as Mr. Jadlowski accepted responsibility. This was not an intentional homicide. It evinced horrible, criminal judgement, but it was not an intentional taking of a life. Acceptance of responsibility for his criminal mistakes is an important
part of this process. While it won’t bring back Rosie, it brought closure in this case and peace
for her family.”
Swanson also said he hopes the incident will remind others to always practice safety first when out hunting.
“This tragedy serves as a reminder that hunting with guns carries an expansive set
of responsibilities, most, if not all, of which are designed to protect people,” Swanson said. “Simple rules were not followed by Mr. Jadlowski and because of his actions two families and entire communities
have suffered. The ripple effect of Rosemary’s death are widespread and will last a long time. My hope is that this incident serves as an example to the hunting community of what can happen when basic hunting rules are not followed. Guns can, and will cause harm when used without caution and care. These tragedies are preventable. It is my sincerest hope that Mr. Jadlowski, after being released from prison makes an effort to influence future hunters with his story.”
Also in response to the sentencing, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos also released a statement.
Seggos said reminded residents that every hunting accident in New York is preventable when people follow basic hunting safety rules, adding that he hopes Billquist tragedy serves as a reminder to hunters across the state to always be sure of their targets and beyond.
Now that the criminal case is over, DEC is also taking action to revoke Jadlowski’s sporting license.