Dillard sentenced

Published 9:52 am Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A 37-year-old Green Bay man was sentenced recently in Lunenburg County Circuit Court to 10 years in prison in connection to shooting a hole through his kitchen door while police surrounded his home in a standoff during which he held his wife as a hostage.

Walter Thomas Dillard was convicted of attempted capital murder of a law enforcement officer, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. According to a press release, an additional 50 years were suspended upon numerous conditions, including staying out of Lunenburg County for an additional 10 years upon his release.

According to Lunenburg County Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert Clement, on March 29, Sgt. Kevin Abernathy and Deputy Sheriff Alex Madison went to Dillard’s residence at 3728 Bethel Church Road to execute a search warrant for firearms related to an incident two days earlier involving Dillard.

Walter’s wife, Chelsea Dillard, met the officers in the yard with her two children, ages 1 and 7 at the time, and said her husband was not at home.

“When the officers said they were going to have to search the house Chelsea went inside to restrain the dogs,” officials said in a press release. “As Madison went into a hallway to make sure the house was clear of any other persons, he saw Walter at the doorway of a bedroom at the end of the hallway.”

The release cited that Walter slammed the door and refused to come out.

“His wife rushed to the door and asked him to open it, and when he did so, she went inside, and he shut the door again. He yelled that he was not coming out,” officials cited in the release. “The officers removed the children and two firearms that were sitting in the living room.”

A tac-team was called in from the Virginia State Police who set up a perimeter about 50 yards out. At one point as Chelsea explained it and as Walter confirmed, she thought she saw a shadow at the door, and blurted, “There’s someone at the door.”

Walter shot the rifle with one hand, and the bullet went through the kitchen door about three feet high.

“The bullet lodged into Walter’s car about 20 feet from the door,” officials said in the release. “A few hours into the event, Dillard allowed his wife to leave, and then he came out later without causing any more trouble.”

Chelsea told police that her husband would not let her out at first, because he feared the police would shoot him unless he had her in there.

“He had her cover all of the windows with blankets so police could not see him,” officials said in the release. “Chelsea later told the victim-witness director that she was not going to testify against her husband, stating that she was going to claim spousal privilege.”

Clement filed a motion to compel testimony for a hearing to have been held Dec. 17, but Walter chose to plead guilty.

“Clement said he had legal research that should have convinced the judge that the wife could be forced to testify because she would be considered a victim since she was held against her will,” officials said in the release. “Walter told police that he had been using methamphetamine and felt that the Pagans, a motorcycle gang, were out to get him. He said it caused him to distrust the police. His wife confirmed his bizarre behavior for the two weeks prior to the incident.”

According to the release, in 2003 in Dinwiddie County, Dillard was found not guilty by reason of insanity on a murder charge.

“He had been on a conditional release from that circuit court, but was revoked and placed back in Central State Hospital until the Lunenburg trial,” officials said in the release. “He was examined by experts and found to be competent to stand trial and not insane at the time of the offense.”

In addition to his active sentence of 10 years, Walter also received a 50-year suspended sentence, subject to conditions of good behavior for 60 years, supervised probation indefinitely, staying out of Lunenburg County for 10 years upon his release, warrantless searches, mental health counseling, substance abuse counseling and abstaining from alcohol and illegal drugs.