Evidence Is Presented and Jury Selection Begins in Trial of Gary Bullock
John Chiv covers the local legal system for his blog. He shares his observations on some of the more high profile trials with us in our Humboldt Justice guest column.On December 31st, 2013, Father Freed prepared for a New Year’s mass. But when the next day’s celebration was to occur, he was instead found murdered. The story of a Catholic priest killed in his home next to his church became national news.
A Southern Humboldt man from a prominent family, Gary Bullock, was soon arrested and charged with first degree murder.
John Chiv covers today’s court proceedings for us below, on his blog here and also here. The morning was mostly concerned with jury selection and the afternoon was taken up with reviewing evidence and deciding what the jury will hear. Chiv writes,
Jury selection started today in the jury trial for Gary Lee Bullock.
Judge John Feeney met privately with attorneys, Deputy District Attorney Andrew Issac and Kaleb Cockrum as well as DA Investigator John Burke.
Bullock dressed in a white shirt and gray slacks silently next to Mr. Cockrum, occassionally glancing at the audience.
Two family members, including Bullock’s brother-in-law and two people who knew Fr. Eric Freed came though one had to leave before court opened. The other is a parishioner who has attended most of the court hearings in the last two years.
A jury panel,originaly scheduled for an attempted murder case filled out the first hardship questionnaire. Those that were not excused will fill out the long questionnaire this afternoon and be asked to call after 5 p.m. tomorrow. Another jury panel will fill out the hardship questionnaire tomorrow morning.
A 402 or evidentiary hearing is being held this afternoon with DA Investigator Burke, DA Computer Specialist Martin Perrone and former Eureka Police Detective Todd Wilcox, who now works for the Humboldt County Sheriff’s office. Tomorrow Sgt. Jesse Taylor from Garberville and Department of Justice’s Kay Belchner are supposed to testify also. An evidentiary hearing took place this afternoon in the Gary Lee Bullock case.
Video surveilance from St. Bernards Church, google maps, church blue prints, audio of four phone calls and visitations made by Bullock to his grandmother and wife and with his mother and step father were admitted into evidence. A snippet of the phone call with Bullock pleading to his grandmother to bail him out on Jan 7, 2014 was played. In the snippet, Bullock’s grandmother said, “I will not lose my house over your drug use.”
She says no to him several times in the selection. We heard, “If I let you out, you will go back to drugs.” Bullock says he won’t. She says she has heard that before. Then she says, “You killed somebody.” He responds, “No, I didn’t. I ‘ll explain it to you.”
Video recording made from surveillance cameras all over St. Bernard’s property, one inside the church, the rest exterior covering the grounds, the rectory, the church, the bathrooms and other buildings which was shown at the preliminary hearing was played, identified and admitted into evidence. The video covers the times between midnight and 7 a.m. on January 1, 2014 and was prepared by DA Investigator Martin Perrone who specializes in computer crimes for the D.A’s office. Although, exhibit number 7, the interview of Bullock at the Eureka Police Department with EPD Detective Ron Harpham and DA Investigators Wayne Cox and John Burke was identified, how much of that the jury will hear will be decided on March 7. Defense is objecting to the entire interview, but is fine with select portions. Both attorneys will present arguments on March 7, 2016 as well as other motions will be heard that day.
Trial is expected to conclude by or before April 18, 2016.The jury trial will be in session five days a week; Monday to Thursday full days from 8:30 to 4 and Friday mornings from 8:30 until noon. There are a few days in March and early April that the trial will not be in session. Bullock is charged with
Count 1 murder with three special allegations: infliction of torture, murder committed while engaging in first degree residential burglary and murder committed during carjacking. Count 2 and 3 are both first degree residential burglary. Count 4 Vehicle theft. Count 5 arson of inhabitated structure. Count 6 is carjacking and Count 7 is Torture.