The Washington physician charged with using his putter to club a Canada goose to death at the exclusive Congressional Country Club in Bethesda was released on his personal recognizance today after requesting a jury trial on federal charges stemming from the fowl's death.
Dr. Sherman A. Thomas, a 63-year-old family doctor charged with violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act during his May 3 golf game, will be arraigned after the case is assigned to a U.S. District Court judge here.
Thomas was charged with killing the Canada goose out of season and with illegally possessing a Canada goose, which is protected under the bird treaty act. The charges carry a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $500 fine.
Charges against Thomas were filed here two weeks ago after the U.S. attorney's office received numerous complaints from members of the country club and from bird lovers who hoped someone would investigate the incident.
Witnesses give conflicting versions of what happened on the day the goose died. One version is that the goose honked as Thomas was lining up his putt on the 17th green and Thomas was so enraged at missing his putt that he attacked the goose. The other version is that Thomas' approach shot accidentally hit the goose, injuring it badly and Thomas simply put the goose out of its misery.
The body of the goose has not been recovered. Some witnesses have said the dead goose left the golf course in Thomas' golf bag. Other witnesses deny this.
Under federal law only shotguns firing steel pellets may be used to kill migratory water fowl. The goose-hunting season in Maryland ended Jan. 26.
Thomas remained silent yesterday about the goose's death as he waited for his attorney, Charles N. Shaffer, to appear for the brief court hearing. Shaffer formerly represented former White House counsel John Dean.