PORTLAND – From the moment Lisa Kolofsky learned of her husband’s death in a hunting accident, her heart went out to the man who shot him.

In a courtroom crowded with relatives and friends of her husband, Peter Kolofsky, for the sentencing Thursday of William Briggs, she said she didn’t have the energy to be angry. She had to focus on her children and their lives without their father.

At one point, she turned from the podium to speak directly to Briggs. “Today,” she said, “I ask you to forgive yourself and to please work to educate other hunters so no one has to walk in our shoes.”

Then she addressed supporters, some of whom sobbed: “I’m asking each of you to find it in your hearts to forgive Mr. Briggs, because that’s what Pete would have done.”

Briggs, 61, a Central Maine Power Co. supervisor from Windham who had no criminal history, pleaded guilty to manslaughter Thursday. Under a plea agreement, he was sentenced to three years in prison — with all but 45 days suspended — and four years of probation that will include 500 hours of community service related to hunting safety.

Briggs killed Peter Kolofsky, 46, in Sebago on Nov. 5 when he fired at movement he took to be a deer. Kolofsky’s death left his two children — 16-year-old Maria and 10-year-old Thomas — without a father and left Lisa Kolofsky without the man who still melts her heart 30 years after their first date.

Before Superior Court Justice Roland Cole imposed the sentence, Lisa Kolofsky spoke of the sparkle in her husband’s eye that made people wonder what he was up to, his adoration of their children and his generosity to others.

Maria Kolofsky described herself as a “daddy’s girl” whose father won’t see her 18th birthday, walk her down the aisle at her wedding or spoil the children she will have someday.

Jay Halle, a friend since kindergarten, spoke of Kolofsky’s infectious laugh and the way he would rub has hands together in anticipation of a venison meal.

Kolofsky was a carpenter, a commercial fisherman and an enthusiastic outdoorsman. He was killed not far from his home on Hogfat Hill Road in Sebago. Maria Kolofsky dropped him off there. Briggs and his brother arrived later, around 4 p.m. on Nov. 5.

The brothers went in different directions, and Briggs positioned himself by a large rock near a tote road. All of the men were experienced hunters.

Briggs told authorities that he saw a bull moose cross the tote road and believed it would move deer, Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea said during the proceeding. Briggs thought he saw the rack of a small deer, but he didn’t see the body. He fired twice toward the movement without identifying the head or the torso of a deer.

Briggs found Kolofsky on the ground, rolled him over and immediately called 911 when he saw blood, Zainea said. Kolofsky was wearing a blaze orange vest. A blaze orange cap was nearby. A moose antler was near a stump.

Kolofsky was pronounced dead at the scene. He was killed by a single gunshot.

Zainea said photographs taken during the investigation indicated that Briggs’ view was obstructed, and that given the distance of a couple hundred yards, he wouldn’t have been able to see Kolofsky even in his blaze orange.

The Maine Warden Service characterized the incident as a textbook failure to make proper identification of a target. Under state law, a hunter must positively identify a target with an unobstructed view of the target’s head and torso before firing.

The law took effect in 1991, prompted by the death in 1988 of Karen Wood, who was shot by a hunter while she hung clothes on a line in her yard in Hermon. The hunter, Donald Rogerson of Bangor, was acquitted of manslaughter.

Zainea said the base sentence for similar cases, of which there aren’t many, is four to five years. Mitigating factors included Briggs’ cooperation with law enforcement, his lack of a criminal history, his clear remorse and his acceptance of responsibility, she said.

Briggs apologized to the Kolofsky family in a voice that was nearly inaudible at times. He removed his eyeglasses to wipe away tears as he spoke. He said he is sorry for the pain and suffering he has caused and will pray for the family every day and night.

“I know that when my days are done on this earth, I will stand before my God and he will judge me for the good that I’ve done on this earth and for the bad that I’ve done — and for what I failed to do,” he said. “And only then will it be done.”

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at:

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