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Hunt cabin murder case stays in juvenile court

The judge finds the teen lacked the sophistication and maturity to appreciate the nature of his actions on that fatal night last fall.

Blue Mountain Eagle

Published on September 23, 2014 1:51PM

CANYON CITY – Dillan Dakota Easley, facing murder charges in the shooting of his foster father and another man last fall, will not be tried in adult court.

That was the decision from Circuit Judge J. Burdette Pratt on Wednesday, Sept. 17, wrapping up the remand hearing in Grant County Circuit Court.

Pratt ruled that Easley’s case should remain in the juvenile system.

The state had sought a waiver to adult court, but the judge agreed with the defense attorneys who argued that Easley lacked sufficient sophistication and maturity to appreciate the nature of his conduct.

The hearing spanned two weeks in the Grant County courtroom, with a dozen relatives of the two victims in attendance.

Easley, now 15, was 14 at the time of the shootings.

Police were called Oct. 4 to a remote hunting cabin near Granite, finding the foster father Michael Piete, 32, and his uncle, Kenneth C. Gilliland, 64, shot dead at the scene.

Easley and the victims lived in the Baker City area, in Baker County, but the crime was committed in Grant County so the case has been proceeding in Canyon City.

Witnesses for the state described the night of the shooting, saying that Easley and Gilliland arose in the night and went outside to urinate. Others in the cabin awoke to a loud bang – the shot that killed the older man.

The teen’s account was that he was frightened by eyes shining in the dark beyond the cabin, but the state contends the shooting was toward the cabin, into the light.

Subsequent shots were fired toward the loft in the house, killing Piete, who had roused from his bed to see what was going on.

Easley was represented at the hearing by attorneys Katherine O. Berger and John Lamborn.

The defense argued that Easley suffers from PTSD and other conditions, is younger than his chronological age and has difficulty distinguishing between fantasy and reality.

Berger said he would benefit from the structure of the juvenile system.

District Attorney Ryan Joslin and Assistant Attorney General Dan Wendel presented the state’s case, arguing that the boy could appreciate the nature of his conduct – one of several tests set out by the law to determine if the case should move to adult court.

Easley is being held in juvenile facility at the Northern Oregon Regional Corrections Facility.


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