New judge appointed to Grant County double murder case

By Chris Collins November 25, 2013 12:45 pm

By Chris Collins

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A retired Vale judge has been appointed to hear the case of a 14-year-old boy in foster care accused of killing two Baker County men at a hunting cabin near Granite on Oct. 3.

Dillan Dakota Willford Easley has been charged with shooting his foster father, Michael Piete, 43, and Piete’s uncle, Kenneth C. Gilliland, 64. Easley had been placed in foster care with Piete and his wife, Carlotta, by Douglas County authorities.

The Pietes, Easley and Gilliland all lived on Dry Creek Road off Highway 30 southeast of Baker City.

Senior Judge J. Burdette Pratt, who retired from the Malheur County Circuit Court bench in 2012, was appointed to Easley’s case after Grant County District Attorney Ryan Joslin was granted a motion disqualifying Grant County Judge William D. Cramer. 

Under Oregon law, no specific reason is required in seeking a new judge if the motion is made in good faith and is not intended to simply delay the proceedings.

Joslin’s motion  was granted Oct. 30 by Malheur County Judge Patricia Sullivan, who was visiting Grant County Circuit Court at Canyon City.

No new hearings have been scheduled in Easley’s case, though one might take place in December, Dean Hoodenpyl, Grant County Juvenile Department director, said in a telephone interview Friday.

Scott Jackson, assistant attorney general, who works in the District Attorney Assistance Section of the Oregon Department of Justice, will help Joslin prosecute the case, Hoodenpyl said.

The district attorney has filed a juvenile petition charging Easley with two counts of aggravated murder.

Easley is being represented by Portland attorney Katherine O. Berger.

The boy, who accidentally shot himself in the leg the night Piete and Gilliland died, initially left the cabin and later returned for help. 

Others at the cabin when the shootings happened were Kenneth’s brother, Bob Gilliland of Tidewater, and family friend, Dennis Glerup of Baker City. Bob Gilliland left to seek help and to summon authorities to the site.

Glerup remained at the cabin and overpowered Easley when the boy returned. Glerup used duct tape to strap Easley to a chair to hold him for law enforcement officers.

Easley was taken to St. Alphonsus Medical Center in Boise for treatment of his accidental gunshot wound. Since his release from the hospital, he has been held at the 32-bed juvenile portion of the Northern Oregon Regional Corrections Facility (NORCOR) in The Dalles.

Easley’s parents are Stephanie Steinhoff of Reedsport and J.D. Wilford Easley of Myrtle Point, according to Douglas County Juvenile Department records.