Attorney Representing Sherman Hunter Responds To Dismissal

Thomas Jadlowski

The attorney representing a Sherman man who mistook his neighbor for a deer when he shot and killed her in November says County Court Judge David Foley was right to dismiss a manslaughter charge after a review of grand jury testimony.

In a statement to The Post-Journal on Saturday, Dunkirk attorney Michael Cerrie said he asked Foley to review the transcript of grand jury testimony regarding Thomas Jadlowski, who was later indicted on charges of second-degree manslaughter and hunting after dark. Jadlowski told police he fired the single shot Nov. 22 that hit 43-year-old Rosemary Billquist as she walked her dogs not far from her Sherman home.

Jadlowski, 34, said he thought he saw a deer when he fired the round. Billquist, who worked at UPMC Chautauqua WCA in Jamestown, was taken to an Erie, Pa., hospital where she was later pronounced dead.

Following the indictment, the Sherman man was arraigned and released after posting bail. The trial was scheduled to begin in August in Chautauqua County Court in Mayville.

However, after reviewing the grand jury testimony, Foley on Wednesday dismissed the manslaughter charge after he found the District Attorney’s Office erred when a juror asked of a lesser charge. Foley said District Attorney Patrick Swanson failed to explain the legal elements of criminally negligent homicide, a Class E felony.

Pictured are Jamie and Rosemary Billquist. Rosemary was shot and killed Nov. 22. as she was walking her dogs near her Sherman home.

In his statement, Cerrie said he agreed with Foley’s decision.

“The grand jury asked a very important question, but the district attorney did not answer the question with the details that were required,” Cerrie said. “That effectively undermined the role of the grand jury, resulting in the decision and order that Judge Foley was compelled to issue.”

Carrie said grand jury statements have not been released to the defense.

In response to Foley’s four-page ruling, Swanson said he disagreed, and called the dismissal a “hyper-technicality.” The district attorney said he would be reviewing his options to either appeal the ruling to an appellate court or re-submit the case to another grand jury within 30 days of the dismissal.

Swanson said he is leaning toward re-submitting the case and pointed out during an interview Thursday that Foley acknowledged there was sufficient evidence for the second-degree manslaughter indictment.

Patrick Swanson announces the indictment against Jadlowski during a press conference in Mayville. P-J photo by Katrina Fuller

Cerrie said Foley made the right decision based on a “a thorough and careful analysis of the facts, and the applicable statutes and caselaw.”

“We certainly agree that this is the appropriate decision,” he said, “and we disagree with the district attorney that the judge’s decision was some sort of a hyper-technicality.”

See The Sunday Post-Journal for more coverage and Cerrie’s full statement regarding the dismissal.