Eddy Dills had choice words for Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officers after he got a 60-day jail sentence Monday morning in Cowlitz District Court.
"Go ahead, glare some more, you piece of crap," he yelled at them as they left the Cowlitz Hall of Justice.
Dills, who was sentenced as a result of a sprawling investigation of an alleged Pacific Northwest-based poaching ring, said in an interview that he pleaded guilty in Monday's sentencing to quickly resolve the case and help his daughter.
A month before WDFW searched his Cowlitz County home in 2017, Dills said, his daughter was raped by a Cowlitz County man who testified to WDFW officers about Dill's hunting activities. In exchange, Dills claimed, the WDFW declined to investigate that man's sexual assault. Dills, who now lives in Idaho, said he only "a few weeks ago" learned of the assault.
"That man turned snitch against us," Dills said, "told all kind of lies, (and) they let him go on a rape charge of a 15-year-old girl because of that. How he gets away with that, they don't care. They got their conviction. They got what they wanted."
"They knew it, and the dirty bastards are walking away," he added loudly as WDFW officers walked to their cars.
WDFW Sgt. Patrick Anderson called Dills' claim that there was a WDFW conspiracy against him "preposterous." The WDFW investigated the alleged assault, Anderson said, and ultimately did not develop evidence for sexual misconduct charges. It was not known where the incident occurred.
"He thinks we're out to get him and his family, and that's simple not the case," Anderson said Monday. "If he would simply just obey the law, and stop hunting illegally, then we would stop contacting him."
Dills said his family has an attorney looking over the case and they are filing a lawsuit.
Dills and several other defendants have already been charged and sentenced in a handful of cases across Washington and Oregon for illegal hunting. Some of those cases involve allegations that poachers used hunting dogs to "tree" prey, which means driving wildlife up trees where they can be shot by a hunter. The practice is illegal in Oregon and Washington. Dills' case Monday was over a single charge of hunting a cougar with a dog.
He entered an Alford plea to the charge, meaning he pleaded guilty and admitted that a judge or jury would likely find him guilty while maintaining his innocence.
"You know, pretty much, why I'm here today: What happened to my daughter," Dills told District Court Judge Debra Burchett. "I did this to get her out of here. ... I'm not agreeing to, I did not tree a cougar. I can't do anything about that now."
Dills, 59, was sentenced to 60 days in jail, with about half of that time credited for time already served. It was more than the joint recommendation that the prosecutor and public defender had given Burchett.
That recommendation would have given him 30 days in jail concurrent with a Wasco County, Or sentence for separate hunting charges.
Burchett gave Dills until the morning of Aug. 17 to turn himself in so that he can attend to family matters. Dills said he needs that time to help his daughter get to Idaho with the rest of the family.
"It is reprehensible that this would happen to any kind of animal," Burchett said. "This is not a victimless crime. I also do not feel that you have taken any responsibility whatsoever. ... You have a right to an Alford plea, but I would have hoped there would have been some responsibility taken, some remorse, other than for yourself and for your family."
Dills also lost his hunting license for life. Several times, Burchett warned him never to hunt again. Like many of the other poachers convicted in the investigation, he faces significant jail time and fines if he violates hunting laws again.
"I'm done," Dills said in court. "I goofed up, I agree. And I take my responsibility to never hunt again."