3.01.2008

TS - Judge raises Gundersen's bail to $1.25 million

TS - Judge raises Gundersen's bail to $1.25 million

A judge ordered David Gundersen's bail to be increased to $1.25 million Friday in light of new charges filed this week against the embattled Blue Lake police chief.

Gundersen has pleaded not guilty to 19 counts, including 12 charges of spousal rape using an intoxicating or anesthetic substance, attempting to prevent a victim from reporting a crime and possessing both a machine gun and a pistol with a silencer.

Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Marilyn Miles raised Gundersen's bail in light of four new counts filed Wednesday, which include the charge of kidnapping or transporting a victim for the purpose of committing rape with the use of a firearm. Miles said the raise was in accordance with the court bail schedule.

Prior to Miles' decision, Gundersen's attorney, Russell Clanton, asked Miles to leave the bail as previously set at $500,000.
”The current bail in effect, given Chief Gundersen's resources, is no bail,” Clanton said. “It's unattainable ... I think it's just piling on at this point to increase the bail.”

District Attorney Paul Gallegos didn't see it the same way.

”If it's unattainable, it shouldn't really matter,” Gallegos said, adding that, because of the serious nature of the charges, the bail should reflect the bail schedule.

Miles agreed.

”I would note Mr. Gundersen is charged with 13 violent felonies,” she said. “The court finds no reason to deviate.”

After Miles reset Gundersen's bail, Clanton said the defense was willing to waive time, and asked that the preliminary hearing scheduled to begin Monday be moved back three weeks. Gallegos agreed, and the hearing is set to begin March 20.

Clanton also expressed frustration at the rate that his office has received discovery -- a court term for the exchange of information between the attorneys involved in a case.

”I would like to note one thing for the record, there is a lack of discovery that is making it difficult for us to prepare,” he said.
Gallegos assured the court he would get all the discovery to the defense as soon as possible.

After the hearing, Clanton said the combination of a lack of discovery provided by the prosecution and new charges filed Wednesday made it impossible to prepare for the preliminary hearing as initially scheduled for Monday.

”There is no way, given the stakes of these charges, we were going to be able to prepare to address these charges and cross examine witnesses,” he said.

Clanton said the decision to waive time was a difficult one, as it means his client will spend another three weeks in jail awaiting his preliminary hearing.

”It's extremely difficult, but there's no way around it,” Clanton said, adding that his client was willing to serve the additional time in jail now in order to have a better prepared defense.

Gundersen was arrested Feb. 8 after his wife alleged earlier in the day that he had sex with her the night before, without her knowledge or consent, after she had taken sleeping pills, according to a document used to request an arrest warrant. Gundersen's wife said it had happened “hundreds of times,” the document states.

By the end of that same day, the alleged victim changed her story and was describing the sex as consensual, according to Sheriff's office reports contained in the court file.

A search warrant issued on Gundersen's home and vehicles allegedly led to the seizure of dozens of prescription pill bottles, some of which were issued to people other than Gundersen or his wife, and some that were inscribed with Blue Lake Police Department case numbers, according to a district attorney's office report.

A machine gun and a pistol with a silencer attached were also reportedly seized, according to the report, as well as digital cameras, video recorders and computers.

The Blue Lake Police Department was also searched, according to court records, and firearms and computer equipment were reportedly seized from that location as well.

Gallegos filed a criminal complaint last week charging Gundersen with 12 counts of spousal rape, as well as three charges allegedly committed while in custody.

On Wednesday, when Gundersen's preliminary hearing was scheduled to start, Gallegos filed an amended criminal complaint with four additional charges alleging Gundersen kidnapped or carried away a second victim for the purpose of committing rape, acted unlawfully with department records and was in possession of the machine gun and a pistol with a silencer.
Clanton said Friday he's waiting to receive all the discovery.
”I'm just looking forward to getting ourselves in a position where we can begin to counter punch, and that's going to be fairly soon,” Clanton said.

Thadeus Greenson/The Times-Standard
Article Launched: 03/01/2008 01:31:22 AM PST

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