2.29.2008

ER - Gundersen’s attorney: Gallegos to face difficulty upholding burden of proof


Blue Lake Police Chief David Gundersen's attorney Russell J. Clanton, of the Arcata-based firm, Russell J. Clanton and Associates, held a press conference Thursday afternoon to discuss the progress of Gundersen’s case. Daniel Solomon/The Eureka Reporter
Gundersen’s attorney: Gallegos to face difficulty upholding burden of proof

Blue Lake Police Chief David Gundersen’s attorney, Russell J. Clanton, held a press conference in Arcata Thursday to discuss the new charges facing his client.

Clanton said he’s reviewed the amended complaint that Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos filed Wednesday, which added four charges to the 15 already alleged against Gundersen. But he hasn’t received all of the evidence.

Clanton said he was troubled by the timing Gallegos chose to file the new charges — the day Gundersen was scheduled to have a preliminary hearing.

Rather than hear the DA’s evidence, Clanton heard that his client is accused of felony kidnapping a different victim for the purpose of rape — while he was armed.

Gundersen allegedly committed the offense on March 7, 1999, — nearly nine years ago in Humboldt County.

The accusation was filed with the Eureka Police Department at the time, but the department did not take any action, Clanton said.

He called the charge “extremely troubling,” because it carries a penalty of life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Clanton said if Gallegos is threatening life in prison, he should provide the evidence for that charge.

“It appears the DA is developing his case as we go forward,” Clanton said. He said it’s horribly unfair, and called it a “witch hunt” and “character assassination.”

Clanton dismissed another felony charge filed Wednesday — unlawful possession of an MP5 machine gun — citing that it is not unusual for small-town police departments to have access to a variety of weapons.

He said that it is Gundersen’s opinion that once all the facts are out, he’ll be found not guilty.

There’s a day of reckoning for these type of allegations and the DA has the burden of proof, Clanton said.

Citing the ferocity of the investigation, Clanton said that though Gallegos and Gundersen had a sound relationship, “it would appear there are individuals in the law enforcement community who have axes to grind (with Chief Gundersen).”

By EMILY WILSON, The Eureka Reporter
Published: Feb 28 2008, 11:52 PM · Updated: Feb 29 2008, 12:27 AM