A Missoula judge sentenced a man to 10 years in prison on Thursday for attempting to employ a woman as a prostitute while they were both in county jail in July 2018.
Walter Leon Hill, 50, had been set to go to trial on Wednesday on charge of promoting prostitution, but instead took an offer from prosecutors and pleaded guilty to the charge on Tuesday.
Missoula Judge Karen Townsend on Thursday sentenced Hill to 10 years in state prison, without a possibility of parole for the first five years.
It's Hill's second conviction on a prostitution charge in four years. He was spared a prison sentence in a 2013 case in which he was pimping out a 17-year-old girl on backpage.com. Townsend then noted Hill's propensity to disregard probation conditions at sentencing in that case, and said her suspended 10-year term would bear "no tolerance for anything."
Two years later, Hill was arrested at the Western Montana Fair in Missoula after two probation officers spotted him with a cellphone, against the conditions of his probation, according to court records.
While jailed on the probation revocation, Hill in July 2018 asked a detention officer to give a note to a woman also in the Missoula County jail. Detention staff read the note and turned it over to Missoula Police Detective Guy Baker to investigate the matter.
According to charging documents, Hill asked a woman to be his "bottom bitch," who is typically the pimp's manager of other prostitutes. "I offer you real ways to end with your own home, car of your dreams — while you still do what you love."
Additionally, Hill's correspondence suggested the woman should recruit more women at treatment meetings.
"Don't run from it," he wrote, according to court records.
Prosecutors had asked Townsend extend the term for which Hill was ineligible for parole, citing his behavior in jail, and "how he's treated female staff while in jail."
"It's concerning, because this behavior was continuing while the defendant was in custody," Deputy County Attorney Jen Clark said during the hearing on Thursday. "We believe the longer he's in custody, the safer the community will be."
Hill and his attorney Minot Maser asked for a shorter term — three years before he could meet with the parole board — so he could have a chance to re-enter the community as a law-abiding citizen after taking advantage of different programs in prison available to inmates.
Still, Hill felt he had been misrepresented.
"There's been plenty of conjecture of my character and my past transgressions," he started off in his statement to the court. "Yet the core of this court session today is to assess my future. Being a self-aware man, I see that my faults and my criminal behavior just keeps reproducing itself and driving me toward self-destruction."
In January, Hill was convicted to 10 years for violating probation on the earlier prostitution charge. He will serve that sentence before the 10-year sentence begins on his recent charge.