Adam Carlson
March 05, 2018 12:54 PM

A western New York judge has dismissed a manslaughter charge against a local man whom authorities said shot and killed a woman living nearby when he mistook her for a deer, PEOPLE confirms.

However, the judge allowed prosecutors to present the case to another grand jury in the coming weeks, prosecutors tell PEOPLE.

“There needs to be a showing that this conduct isn’t acceptable,” Chautauqua County District Attorney Patrick Swanson tells PEOPLE, adding, “A message needs to be sent.”

On Nov. 22, around 5:20 p.m., 43-year-old Rosemary Billquist was shot once in the hip by Thomas Jadlowski from some 200 yards away as she was out walking her dogs in a field near her home in Sherman, according to officials with the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office and the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

Jadlowski, 35, remained on the scene after hitting Billquist and he explained his role in the shooting to authorities, the sheriff’s office said at the time.

Immediately after firing on what he believed to be a deer, Jadlowski said then, he heard a scream and raced to Billquist and called 911 while applying pressure to her wound, according to authorities.

Billquist died from her injuries while in the hospital.

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Rosemary Billquist (front, right) with husband Jamie Billquist and her family
Courtesy Jamie Billquist
Thomas Jadlowski
Chautauqua County Sheriff

Within days, authorities said, Jadlowski was indicted on both second-degree manslaughter and hunting after legal hours charges. (It is illegal to hunt big game after sunset in New York.) He surrendered into the custody of county officials, pleaded not guilty and posted bail.

On Feb. 21, the judge in Jadlowski’s case ordered his second-degree manslaughter charge dismissed and allowed prosecutors 30 days to re-present the case to another grand jury.

According to a copy of the decision obtained by PEOPLE, Judge David Foley found that Swanson, the district attorney, failed to adequately instruct the grand jury about the lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide should jurors have decided manslaughter was not proper.

Swanson disputes Foley’s analysis, noting that he would have instructed the jury on the details of the lesser charge had they decided not to indict on second-degree manslaughter.

In a statement to PEOPLE, Jadlowski’s attorney, Michael Robert Cerrie, said he agreed with the judge.

“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.”

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In a previous statement, Cerrie offered condolences to Billquist’s family and friends on behalf of Jadlowski. He said the shooting “will certainly alter the lives of [her] family and friends, as it will for my client and his family.”

Swanson says the case will be brought before another grand jury by March 23.

“It’s unfortunate that the most expeditious way to seek justice in this case is to represent this,” he says.

Billquist’s husband, Jamie Billquist, has been briefed on these developments and supports the prosecution, according to Swanson.

Rosemary Billquist

Jamie told local media, “We will get justice.”

“It’s not like he’s just going to walk away, and it’s over, and he got off on all charges,” he said, according to the Democrat & Chronicle. “It’s not that. [Prosecutors] reassured me that they’re working on it. They’re going to go back in, and [they] just told me that everything’s going to be good, no worries. Things are going to be good, and we will get justice.”

“I feel confident [the district attorney is] going to re=present it again to the grand jury and hopefully this time we’ll get something out of it,” Jamie tells PEOPLE.

The tight-knit town of 1,000 people was shaken by the shooting. “Everybody knew either both of or one of them,” Chautauqua County Sheriff Joseph A. Gerace previously told PEOPLE, and “everyone was touched” by the shooting.

Speaking to PEOPLE last year, Jamie remembered her as a big-hearted woman with deep roots in her community.

“We’ve been through a lot and we’ve always stayed strong,” Jamie said. “Every day we’d say to each other we love each other … 15, 20 times a day, we always made a point to always say that.”

He says now that two memorial runs have been set up in Rosemary’s honor, both in June: Rosie’s Run, in Sherman, on June 3; and the Be Kind 5K, in neighboring Falconer, on June 9. They will raise funds for a scholarship in her name.

“She’ll never be forgotten,” Jamie told PEOPLE in December. “I’ll make sure of it.”

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