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Bunty denied bail

Man accused of double murder 18 years ago

STAFF WRITER

BARSTOW• A judge on Friday denied bail for a man accused of a 1995 double homicide.

Barstow Superior Court Judge John Gibson paused for several seconds before ruling against a defense attorney’s motion to release Christian Bunty on $100,000 bond with electronic monitoring.

Defense attorney Eric Chase argued evidence against his client was weak and that it would be “virtually impossible” to obtain a conviction.

“For the past 17 years, (Bunty) has led an exemplary life,” Chase told Gibson.

Bunty, 40, pleaded not guilty to the charges during the Friday arraignment.

Due to Bunty’s ties to the Idaho community where he had lived before being extradited to Barstow on Jan. 19, he was “not a danger to the community” and “not a flight risk,” Chase explained.

Deputy District Attorney Sean Daugherty rebutted that “there is sufficient showing to keep bail at no bail.”

Under the law, no bail is granted when special circumstances are alleged — in Bunty’s case, he faces two: multiple murders and robbery, according to court records.

Chase and Daugherty’s talks of witness statements and alleged confessions during the proceedings didn’t seem to impress Gibson, who asked both men to present only the facts.

“I don’t have anything under oath,” Gibson said. “What facts do you think have actually been presented?”

Daugherty responded that there wasn’t any evidence at that point.

“The court’s focus should be on whether presumption is great,” Daugherty said.

About a dozen Bunty supporters were on hand during the arraignment, and Gibson thanked them for coming in. He also said “the letters are impressive” in regard to the show of support from Bunty’s friends and family.

Bunty was arrested in December for the summertime murders of Joseph Riley and Mark Adamson almost 18 years ago. Police said a recent re-investigation had uncovered additional evidence needed to obtain arrest warrants and charge Bunty and James Franklin, 41, with the murders.

Franklin is currently serving a life sentence at the Centinela State Prison near El Centro for a separate homicide, police said in December.

Bunty returned to custody at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga. A preliminary hearing is scheduled at Barstow Superior Court on Feb. 28.


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