People were outraged when initial reports appeared to indicate a man accused of blowing up the family dog would not be facing animal cruelty charges, but the Skamania County Prosecutor says it remains an active investigation.
"It's very likely that when he appears in court next on the 15th that we will be adding animal cruelty charges and maybe other charges too," Skamania County Prosecuting Attorney Adam Kick tells KIRO Radio's Dori Monson Show.
Christopher Wayne Dillingham, 45, was charged Monday with possession of a bomb or explosive device with intent to use for an unlawful purpose and two counts of reckless endangerment for apparently attaching a fireworks bomb to the family dog's collar. But Kick says that is not necessarily the end of the charges.
"The case is still being actively investigated by the sheriff's office so we're not completely finished looking into the matter," says Kick.
There was some hesitation initially to go straight for the animal cruelty charge due to the manner in which the animal was killed and the language of the law, Kick explains.
"The prosecuting attorney deputy who was reviewing it initially, when he first looked at the animal cruelty statute, was a little bit concerned about the statutory language and did have a conversation with one of the sheriff's office deputies that was investigating just to find out how the dog died and what - for lack of a better term - the animal's experience would have been," says Kick.
"The sheriff's deputy suggested that he thought the animal would have died instantly and probably wouldn't even have known what hit it. So that gave the [prosecuting attorney] deputy sort of an initial concern about the language in animal cruelty first degree that requires the animal be "killed an animal by a means causing undue suffering."
Authorities wanted charges they could act quickly on to keep the suspect in custody, so Kick says they proceeded with the possession of explosives and reckless endangerment charges first.
"We wanted to find the most serious charges and the charges that were most clearly geared towards protecting the community and keeping Mr. Dillingham, given the circumstances, out of the community at large."
"I think what happened was when the media picked up the story from the sheriff's office who reported that initially there weren't going to be animal cruelty charges, there was the impression I think left that there would never be animal cruelty charges, when in fact what we were doing was just trying to be careful and make sure we charged the right crime that could satisfy the statutory language."
The penalties for the possession of explosives, and two counts of reckless endangerment, for two kids in the house at the time, carry more serious penalties than the animal cruelty charge. But if it is added and Dillingham is convicted on all counts, he will face more prison time.
"If the case went to trial and he were convicted of everything, including animal cruelty and the explosives charge, it would increase what is called the standard range of the explosives charge," says Dillingham.
The explosives charge alone could mean a sentence of up to 20 years in prison for Dillingham.
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