Mar 18, 2016
"The hole in the tongue didn't kill him; what didn't kill him was the broken spine"
Before Deputy District Attorney Andrew Isaac gave his opening statement, a document, People's Exhibit 6 A, was given by the bailiff to all jurors. This was a written transcript to aid them in an audio recording they would hear and which will also be presented later as evidence.
Listing the order of witnesses he intends to call, the timeline he intends to finish his part of the case which is expected to be by next Friday, and key evidence supporting charges, Mr. Isaac drew a road map for the jurors in the Bullock trial in his opening statement which about 45 minutes.
"In a minute, I am going to read you a portion of the transcript you got and then Mr. Perrone will play" the audio, is how Mr. Isaac opened his remarks to the jury. He told the jurors that they will be given a CD to take into the deliberation room with them.
DA investigator Martin Perrone will be the first witness, said Mr. Isaac. "He will show you a video of church surveillance."
"Right now somewhere in the U.S., some prosecutor is saying, actions are louder than words," said Mr. Isaac. "In this case, we have both; we have video and we have audio."
A phone call made on August 23 was played for the jury. Bullock is talking with his mother, Carol Bruno. Bullock is heard saying "They got me on video going into the house. They got me dead to rights."
"As the judge told you, my job is to tell you what the evidence will show or what it will not show," said Mr. Isaac. "As you will hear at the end of the case, when the Judge instructs, this case is legally complex, largely because of Mr. Bullock's intent. There is not going to be any evidence showing you that Mr. Bullock did not kill Fr. Freed."
"Mr. Bullock killed Fr. Freed. Mr. Bullock broke into the house. Mr. Bullock drove away with Fr. Freed's car. Dr. Super will be my last witness."
Mr. Isaac then held up Exhibit 122 which was diagrams made by Dr. Mark Super, a forensic pathologist, who did Fr. Freed's autopsy. The paper was filled with sketches of Fr. Freed's body with hand written notes all over.
"Fr. Freed was beaten from top of the head to the tips of his toes. I will you show the cut on his toe."
"We will start by showing you a video of Mr. Bullock breaking into the house. The first witness will be Martin Perrone. He will tell you how he collected and condensed surveillance video from the church."
Mr. Isaac showed the exhibit which has "the outline of the grounds and rectory" with numbered locations of cameras and pictures next to cameras, which are small representations, of what the jurors will see on the video. Time frame is approximately from 2 a.m to 7 a.m., said Mr. Isaac.
"You are not going to see five hours, you will see an hour and a half when Mr. Bullock is on video."
"You will see Mr. Bullock going in and out of the house collecting stakes and pipe" which were used to beat Fr. Freed. "Dr. Super will explain semi-circular gashes on Fr. Freed's chest which resemble gashes on the wall. Right next to the wall is a big pipe."
The second witness will be EPD Detective Amber Cosetti. She was one of the officers along with Officer Crnich who answered a call and went to talk with Bullock at St. Bernard's the night/early morning hours of December 31, 2013-Jan 1, 2014.
"They encounter Mr. Bullock outside the rectory. It may not be clear why Mr. Bullock was in and about but he was in the area near the church. Detective Cosetti is trained in Crisis Intervention Training." Mr. Isaac said Detective Cosetti can access dual diagnosis. "She will tell you she was face to face with Mr. Bullock. He told her he was looking for shelter/rehab. He seemed rational; not in crisis."
The next witness will be Deacon Frank Weber. When Fr. Freed did not show up for mass around 9 a.m. on New Year's Day, "Deacon Weber goes to check on his friend.". "Blood alcohol for Fr. Freed showed .08 level, he had maybe a couple beers, a glass of wine. He found Eric Freed dead. The last thing you see is Deacon Weber opening the front door waiting for EPD"
Eureka Police Officer Ben Omey was one of the first responders on the scene, along with EMT and firefighters. The rectory "is a two story structure; different officers had different responsibilities. Ben will tell you everyone who went in smelled gas. He went into the kitchen, one burner was lit, next to it was a smoldering cigar. We got the cigar."
Department of Justice analysts Kay Belschner, from Eureka and Amy Rojas, from Okland, tested that cigar. "Mr. Bullock's DNA is on the cigar."
"He is intending to blow the rectory. He didn't watch enough McGyver. You have to place the cigar far away, Mr. Bullock did not, he put it next to the burner. He tried to burn the place down twice."
In 2014, EPD Senior Detective Todd Wilcox, took photos and collected evidence in this case. He now works for the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office.
Mr. Isaac told the jurors that when Fr. Freed's body was first discovered, "he was cocooned inside bedding with a wooden stake"
"You will see Mr. Bullock bring it in and a chunk of iron pipe. The bedding is soaked with three empty bottles of Glenlivet scotch and a glossy calendar that is charred."
"The initial confrontation happened at the top of the landing. The evidence is Fr. Freed's phone. Chunks of cell phone found at the top of the stairs and some in a room. There is a table smeared with Fr. Freed's blood. Chunk of a t-shirt ripped out. Tape dispenser smeared with blood. Big gash on Fr. Freed's nose. The evidence will not tell you whether it is from the tape dispenser or nails on the wood."
"You will see debris, rust matching pipe, chips of paint on the stairs, chips of wood sticking out of Fr. Freed's legs. You will have the pipes Gary Bullock used to beat Fr. Freed."
"You will have the most disturbing piece of evidence in the case. Some call it a vase. Bottom is jagged." This has been identified in the evidentiary hearings as a Pilsner glass.
"Dr. Super will tell you about a hole in Fr. Freed's tongue. That hole was bored when Gary Bullock jammed that beer glass down Fr. Eric's throat and twisted it."
The next witness will be DA Investigator John Burke. Part of his duties involve listening to recordings of phone calls made by inmates. He listened to 60 hours of recordings. There are four calls the jury will hear. One is to Bullock's mother; another call to his grandmother. Mr. Isaac quoted Bullock telling his grandmother, "If you bail me out, I will tell you everything."
"Another call to his mother and father." Mr. Isaac quoted Bullock as saying, "When you do, it will scare the shit out of you." The last call is to his wife.
"The difference between what I tell you and Mr. Cockrum will tell you will be on intent. The difference between first degree murder and second degree murder. I have to prove that Mr. Bullock intended to kill Fr. Freed."
"I have to prove that Mr. Bullock intended Fr. Freed to suffer. That hole in the tongue did not kill him. What killed him was a combination of being beaten and choked. Asphyxia. In this case there are no marks of pipe, ligature, possibly arm?" Mr. Isaac said that you can suffer internal damage to the throat from applied pressure. "If you hit hard on the face, the brain shuts off breathing. What didn't kill him was the broken spine."
"I have to prove Mr. Bullock intended to kill Fr. Freed," Mr. Isaac said, again. "I also have to prove that he intended to burn the house. I have to prove he intended to take the keys." Mr. Isaac said that in the phone call Bullock made to his wife, "Stephanie, a month and a half after Mr. Bullock is in jail", he tells her that "they offered me a phone call but I figured no one of you guys would come get me, so I figured I'd find a way home."
"You will see Mr. Bullock drive away with Fr. Freed's car. The car was found near his parent's house, covered. So if you fly over in a helicopter, you wouldn't see it."
"You will see Mr. Bullock look into the camera. You will see him wearing a blue shirt and black pants. You will have those clothes. Amy Rojas will tell you Fr. Freed's blood is on that shirt."
HCSO Detective Greg Musson will testify. He had to assist EPD in finding the road to Bullock's step father and mother's house as he is more familiar with that area. Mr. Isaac spoke about how evidence found by citizens, later collected by Sgt. Jesse Taylor and Deputy Brawner will show that Bullock "crossed the Miranda Bridge in Fr. Freed's car. I have to prove he knew what he was doing." Mr. Isaac said that Bullock threw an insurance card, a Bear River and Cher-ae-Heights Casino card, a Bible, a briefcase and keys from HSU and other items into the water. These items have been identified as belonging to Fr. Freed.
The next witness would be Any Rojas, before her Kay Belschner, if Mr. Isaac needed her to testify to chain of custody.
The last witness, next Friday, will be Dr. Mark Super. "I have given a road map that Gary Bullock intentionally killed Fr. Freed."
First burglary because Bullock broke into the window and drove away in the car; the second burglary"has to do with car keys or shutting up Fr. Freed."
"After the confrontation on top of the stairs, the body is found in his suite. The whole room is undisturbed except where the body is by the door. Not much of a fight. Door was kicked in." This indicates breaking into another part of the house.
"I can't prove to you what was in his mind when he went there but the evidence will show you that he went after Fr. Freed and at some point killed Fr. Freed." Mr. Isaac said evidence would show what injuries were perimortem.
"I think if you make not one but two attempts to burn the place down, it proves arson."
"Ladies and gentleman, this is a very important case to the People, to Mr. Bullock and to both families."
Previous posts (regarding charges and evidence hearings):