2.28.2008

ER - Four new charges against Gundersen

Four new charges against Gundersen

Four new charges against Gundersen

By EMILY WILSON, The Eureka Reporter
Published: Feb 27 2008, 11:16 PM · Updated: Feb 28 2008, 12:23 AM
Category: Local News
Topic: Blue Lake
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In a previous interview, Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos said the case against Blue Lake Police Chief David Gundersen “(is) a bigger case than we thought,” and he meant it.

Gundersen’s preliminary hearing was scheduled for Wednesday in the Humboldt County Courthouse in Superior Court, but Gallegos walked in and slapped the defendant with four more accusations.

Superior Court Judge John T. Feeney filed the amended complaint, which reflected the new accusations in addition to 12 felony counts of spousal rape with an intoxicating or anesthetic substance, one felony count of dissuading or preventing a witness or victim from testifying, possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and willful disobedience of the terms of a court process or court order.

Gundersen’s attorney — Russell J. Clanton of the Arcata-based firm, Russell J. Clanton & Associates — said he received a fax of the new complaint on Tuesday.

However, he requested the preliminary hearing be continued until Monday to give him time to review the accusations. The hearing is scheduled for Monday at 8:30 a.m.

Gundersen — who has been in custody for nearly three weeks — did not waive his right to a speedy trial.

Feeney made use of the appearances by both parties and arraigned the chief on the four new charges.

They include one felony count of allegedly using a firearm to kidnap or carry away an alleged victim for the purpose of rape around March 7, 1999 — an alleged violation of California Penal Code 209 (b)(1).

This alleged victim is not Gundersen’s wife or his former wife, Gallegos said. The alleged offense is considered a felony under PC 1192.7 (c)(8) and a violent felony under PC 667.5 (c)(8).

Gundersen is further accused of one felony count of allegedly selling, offering to sell, possessing or knowingly transporting a Heckler & Koch MP5 machine gun — around Feb. 8 — an alleged violation of PC 12220 (a).

The gun shoots about 700 bullets per minute, Gallegos said.

The third charge — one felony count of possessing a silencer for firearms — also occurred near Feb. 8. It is an alleged violation of PC 12520.

Lastly, he was charged with one count of allegedly violating California Vehicle Code Section 1808.45, for disclosing information from an unnamed-department record, using false representation to obtain the record, using the information for a purpose other than what it was requested for, or participating in the sale or distribution of the information without prior disclosure around Sept. 28.

Gundersen pleaded not guilty to all four counts. At his arraignment on Feb. 13, he pleaded not guilty to all the previous charges.

Gallegos requested that Feeney raise Gundersen’s bail from $500,000 to an amount set by the bail schedule — considering the new charges. Feeney scheduled a bail hearing for Friday at 2 p.m. in Courtroom Three.
Gundersen’s wife — a law enforcement official at a local agency and presumably the alleged victim — was subpoenaed for Wednesday’s hearing.

She is presumably the victim because the DA’s Office charged Gundersen with 12 counts of spousal rape that allegedly occurred monthly over the past year.

She appeared in the Courthouse with her recently hired attorney Neal Sanders of Eureka.

She was also subpoenaed for the preliminary hearing scheduled for Monday. If she does not testify, she will be held in contempt of court, Gallegos said. “You have the power to not testify, but you don’t have the right.”

She is considered a hostile witness, Gallegos said, because it appears she does not want to testify against her husband. She recently told The Eureka Reporter that Gundersen has her support in this criminal case.
It is not unusual for victims who were sexually assaulted by their partners to recant their accusations, Gallegos said, adding: “They love the offender.”

Many domestic violence cases fall to the wayside because it is difficult for victims to testify against their spouses, Gallegos added.

“We actually need (people) in court,” he said.

At the preliminary hearing, the prosecution will present evidence to persuade the judge that there is probable cause for a trial. That evidence may include a statement from the alleged victim.

It’s presumable that the she made a statement to the DA’s Office accusing Gundersen of spousal rape because admissible evidence is necessary to charge someone with a crime.

Hearsay or information from a third party does not equate to admissible evidence. Unless there was a witness to the alleged rapes — it is likely the suspected victim came forth.

If Gallegos is successful, Gundersen will be held in jail for trial. If Gundersen is convicted of the spousal-rape charges, he’ll face a sentence of about 30 years in prison. If he is convicted of rape and kidnapping while armed, he’ll face life in prison with the possibility of parole.