2.29.2008

TS - Court documents shed light on Gundersen case

Court documents shed light on Gundersen case

Court documents in Blue Lake Police Chief David Gundersen's case file shed new light on the circumstances surrounding the investigation into his felony case, which includes charges of spousal rape and an alleged kidnapping with the intent to rape a second victim.

Gundersen has pleaded not guilty to 19 counts, including 12 charges of spousal rape using an intoxication or anesthetic substance, kidnapping for the purpose of committing rape, attempting to prevent a victim from reporting a crime, willfully violating a court order and possessing both a machine gun and a firearm with a silencer.

Gundersen's attorney, Russell Clanton, has said the spousal rape allegations stem from a custody battle between Gundersen and his ex-wife. He did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment for this story.

The court documents outline how the allegation of spousal rape was initially reported, list items reportedly found during law enforcement searches and offer some insight as to why District Attorney Paul Gallegos is now labeling Gundersen's wife, the alleged victim, as a hostile witness.

According to the documents, the case developed on Feb. 8 over the course of about 14 hours, beginning with the alleged victim being interviewed by law enforcement, followed by the issuance of search and arrest warrants, Gundersen's arrest and his wife later stepping back from her allegations.

An Emergency Protective Order, slated to expire Feb. 15, was also issued against Gundersen.

Gundersen's wife, a sergeant with the Blue Lake Police Department, arrived at the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office McKinleyville substation on the morning of Feb. 8 and met with Sheriff's Department Lt. Dave Morey, according to the Statement of Probable Cause, a document prepared by the district attorney's office to request a arrest warrant.

The probable cause document states that during the meeting she claimed her husband had sex with her “hundreds of times” while she was incapacitated after she took sleeping pills, most recently the night before. She also reported finding photographs taken without her knowledge on a computer about six months earlier and confronting her husband about them.

While the timeline is unclear, according to the same document, Gundersen's current wife and his ex-wife spoke while she was at the McKinleyville substation, where his ex-wife works as an office clerk. At some point, the ex-wife relayed information to Morey, which prompted his involvement in the investigation, the document states.

It also states the alleged victim had previously told the ex-wife about her concerns regarding Gundersen, and had given the ex-wife an external hard drive from Gundersen's home computer, which she believed to contain non-consensual nude photographs of her.

The alleged victim, referred to as Jane Doe, was questioned in a videotaped interview at the substation. District Attorney Paul Gallegos said Thursday that there is law to support admitting the videotaped interview as evidence in court.

”I believe there is law to support that under certain circumstances,” Gallegos said. “But, at the end of the day, judges make rulings, not me.”

About the same time Gundersen was taken into custody, his wife reportedly declined a Sexual Assault Response Team, or SART, exam after initially agreeing to take one, with personnel reporting she “now was saying the sexual intercourse last night was consensual,” a sheriff's report states.

A short time later, a detective contacted Gundersen's wife to verify her statements during the taped interview, according to the same report.

”Jane said that is what she told us, but now in her mind the sex was consensual,” the report states. “I asked Jane if the suspect asked her if he could have sex with her. Jane said no. I asked Jane if the suspect knew she was under the influence of a sleeping aid. Jane said yes, the suspect told her to take it. I stated the suspect knew she was under the influence of a sleeping aid, and he had sex with her, without her permission. Jane said yes. Jane said now, in her mind, it was consensual sex.”

Another sheriff's office report said that Gundersen contacted his wife less than two hours after her conversation with the detective, which violated the court's Emergency Protective Order.

Included in the report are summaries of phone conversations Gundersen reportedly had while in custody. It states he made five calls to his wife early on Feb. 9, repeatedly asking her to call law enforcement personnel to request that the charges be dropped and to tell them she was not pressing charges.

The report states that a CD disc of the conversations has been placed into evidence.

Court documents also list some of the items allegedly seized during searches of Gundersen's house and vehicles. Those include “dozens of prescription pill bottles, some of which were issued to people other than Gundersen or 'Confidential Victim 1,' and some inscribed with Blue Lake Police Department case numbers,” according to the district attorney's office report. Digital cameras, video recorders, computers and firearms were also reportedly seized.

Two of the firearms were of special interest, according to the report: a Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun and a Heckler & Koch Mark 23 pistol with a threaded barrel and attached silencer. Both firearms allegedly returned with no record on file when checked on the California Law Enforcement Telecommunication System, the report states.

”The Blue Lake Police Department was also searched pursuant to the search warrant,” the report states. “Computer equipment and firearms were seized from that location as well.”

Gundersen is scheduled to have a hearing to reconsider his $500,000 bail this afternoon, in light of the new charges filed Wednesday. He is also due back in court Monday morning, when his preliminary hearing is scheduled to begin.
Gallegos said wouldn't rule out the possibility of filing additional charges against Gundersen.

”If we have evidence of other criminal activity, we'll file charges,” Gallegos said. “The defendant has the right to a trial and the presumption of innocence always applies. The burden of proof is always on us.”

Thadeus Greenson/The Times-Standard
Article Launched: 02/29/2008 01:32:03 AM P