This case is even bigger than we thought.
A group of up to 10 people thrill-killed nearly 100 animals, including bears, deer, elk and bobcats.
Now, Seattle PI reports at least two suspects have pled not guilty. Aaron Hendricks and his father-in-law, David McLeskey, pled not guilty to charges of first-degree animal cruelty and second-degree unlawful hunting of animals with dogs.
The two were released on $5,000 unsecured bail.
The entire case involves 10 suspects and actually crosses the state line into Oregon. That’s where authorities first started discovering headless bucks. An investigation by Oregon authorities led them to discover the crimes were happening in Washington as well. Eventually, they determined all the crimes connected to each other.
Newer suspects Hendricks and McLeskey are co-defendants with a third suspect, Aaron Hanson, who faces the same charges.
The Chronicle reports another suspect, Bryan Tretiak, pled guilty to a second-degree poaching charge in Sakamania County Court back in November. He received a $500 fine and 14 days of community service.
Tretiak allegedly played a role in the first 30 or so bears this group poached over the course of about two years.
Hendricks and McLeskey are not the first to plead not guilty in this case. The Chronicle additionally reports Eddy Dills, Joseph Dills and Erik Christian Martin pled not guilty to a staggering 118 charges back in October.
The trials for these suspected poachers are won’t begin until January.
In making their case, investigators have recovered evidence against the group, including hundreds of photos and videos from cellphones.
We’ll keep an eye on this story and keep you updated with new developments.