Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Gundersen case goes to the jury UPDATED

☛ TS Gundersen case goes to the jury
The Humboldt County District Attorney's spousal rape case against former Blue Lake Police Chief David Gundersen is in the hands of the Superior Court jury.
The defense made its closing statements on Tuesday, trying to convince the jury that Gundersen's wife, Darcie Seal, was involved in a plot with his ex-wife, who was aiming to gain full custody of her children, to falsely accuse Gundersen of repeatedly raping Seal. While Seal originally made the claims to investigators, she has testified at trial that she was lying.
”In all of this Darcie Seal is just a pawn,” Gundersen's defense attorney Russell Clanton said....

Pretty speedy closing arguments, on both sides.

☛ TS Gundersen case in jury's hands
Clanton began his closing argument by telling the jury the picture it has received of Seal does not fit that of someone who has been controlled and abused. She openly made fun of Gundersen in public, was characterized as insubordinate by a co-worker and controlled the family finances, Clanton said.

”That is hardly the profile of a battered partner,” Clanton said.

The real roots of this case, Clanton said, can be found in Gundersen's relationship with his ex-wife and their long and acrimonious family law case...

Characterizing Gundersen's ex-wife as a blatant liar, Clanton said she gained the confidence of Seal and, when a custody hearing was on the horizon and Seal was in a fragile state, hatched a plan to gain full custody of her children.

Clanton said Seal was exhausted by work and parenting, a mental state that was complicated by a “systematic abuse of mood medications that were prescribed to her, of all people, by her plastic surgeon.”

When Seal was called into the Sheriff's Office main station on Feb. 8, Clanton said, she was an unwitting pawn in Gundersen's ex-wife's plan. The allegations Seal made to investigators that day, Clanton said, were an “improvised replica” of what Gundersen's ex-wife had told her.

When things slipped out of Seal's control that day, and she realized Gundersen was going to be arrested based on her allegations, Clanton said Seal immediately began to try to tell investigators her allegations that Gundersen had raped her hundreds of times over several years were untrue.

Clanton said when Seal told the DA's office she would refuse to falsely testify against her husband in the case, coercion began.
On March 25, the same day a date was set for Gundersen's preliminary hearing, Clanton said DA Investigator Wayne Cox authored a report identifying Seal as a grand theft suspect based on allegations that she gave her ex-brother-in-law firearms and marijuana grow equipment out of Blue Lake Police Department evidence.

There is no explanation for the timing of the report, Clanton said, other than that the DA's Office was trying to force Seal to testify falsely against her husband, threatening to charge her with a felony if she did not.

”It's coercion at its worst -- telling someone, 'we're going to take your freedom or you'll testify,'” Clanton said.
Seal's testimony during trial, Clanton said, is the truth she's been trying to tell ever since that Feb. 8 interview with investigators. ...

Further, Clanton said the prosecution has failed to prove that the sleeping aid Lunesta Seal was taking is powerful enough to render someone unconscious and incapable of consent.

As to the charges of attempting to dissuade the victim of a crime, Clanton said both Seal and a family friend told Gundersen that Seal was dropping all the charges and would not follow through with the case.

”My question to you is how can you dissuade somebody who is dropping the charges -- who has no interest in going forward?” Clanton asked the jury.

The firearms Gundersen is charged with illegally possessing were possessed by Gundersen in his official capacity as chief of police, Clanton said, and therefore were not only legal but were also evidence of good planning for a city that is home to a casino.

”I think this whole issue of weapons has been brought forward just to besmirch my client's character and, maybe, make these spousal rape allegations all the more believable,” Clanton told the jury, concluding that the only reasonable verdict for it to come to is a full acquittal on all charges.

☛ ER Spousal rape case goes to jury
...Clanton spoke at length about Gundersen’s ex-wife, pointing out to the jury that she lied on the stand several times and took steps to mislead Seal into talking to investigators to advance her own agenda — mainly that of winning a heated custody battle for the family’s two children.

One example Clanton gave of Gundersen’s ex-wife lying involved a phone conversation with her attorney at the time, Joan Gallegos. Gundersen’s ex-wife told Seal that Joan Gallegos told her that District Attorney Paul Gallegos, Joan Gallegos’ husband, was willing to prosecute Gundersen.

Joan Gallegos denied the allegations on the stand...
Paul Gallegos, during his rebuttal, rehashed much of what he said Monday, adding that in all the letters and e-mails exchanged between Gundersen and Seal, he never denied the allegations of rape.

If the allegations were indeed false and a product of manipulation, Gallegos asked, why would Seal tell investigators she wished there was more evidence against Gundersen?...


  1. Anyone want to hazard a guess as to how long the jury will deliberate on this? I won't but wouldn't mind seeing how others would guess.

  2. I thought about taking odds, Fred, but it didn't seem, I dunno, fair, or something.

    But I'd be betting it is very quick. Be interesting to see how it goes.

  3. Two short sloppy closings after all that court time, question is does the jury try to figure it out or does the jury say - why should we have to fix this? (and they do not and should not, but you never know). If they try to figure out the evidence, it could be several days. If they decline to do the DA's job for him, it could be pretty quick. I am guessing a few days, because the charges are serious and jurors tend to be conscientious. Plus they usually hate Clanton and don't want to give him what he wants.

  4. I tend to agree anon 3:14

    What's up with Clanton? Doesn't the DA have to prove up the case?

    Gunderson is a complete slimeball but did his actions rise to criminal culpability? Maybe on the protective order. Can't see much else. Weapons maybe,

    3 days

  5. Worse case scenario for Gundersen: Misdemeanor conviction for battery on Seal and sentenced to time served.
    Best case scenario for people of Humboldt County: Not guilty on all counts, Gallegos down the crapper.

  6. I'd have to agree, pogo.

  7. Whatever they do, it will probably be over today. No matter how conscientious a jury is (and most jurors take their role seriously and do their best to do a good job), when Friday afternoon comes and another week looms, they wrap it up. So I expect they will do whatever they do today sometime.

  8. BTW, 3:14 is spot-on, particularly about juries not liking Clanton, but that may not be as much of a factor when PVG is the other player.

  9. Well, Red, wrong again. It turns out they didn't come back on Friday. How pretty vacant you are to presume that jurors reach verdicts on a particular day, because they don't want to come back on a Monday. Like most of the Watchpaul community you seem to have a pretty low opinion of the local community. Perhaps that is why the gang that can't shoot straight can never seem to get majorities in these elections. Gallegos getting elected 3 times and Mark Lovelace are but two simple examples. Get over your hatred for the Humboldt County folks. They are good people. I think those 12 jurors on the Gunderson trial have an enormous job ahead of them, and they want to do what is right and fair in this case. I trust the jury system. Why don't you?

  10. Ok. I didn't want to hazard a guess, but I'll admit my gut feeling was wrong: I was thinking three days.

  11. Except that i really do respect jurors (although I think they are human), it's a fair cop.


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