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Appellate court upholds Bullock murder, torture conviction

By Will Houston, The Times-Standard

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

California’s 1st District Appellate Court has upheld the murder and torture conviction against Redway man Gary Lee Bullock, who murdered beloved St. Bernard Catholic Church Rev. Eric Freed on New Year’s Day 2014.

The case docket states that an opinion was submitted today and that “the judgement is affirmed.”

Bullock, now 47, was found guilty and convicted in April 2016 of first degree murder, two counts of residential burglary, car theft, carjacking, attempted arson, the infliction of torture and special circumstances in the slaying of Freed at the St. Bernard Catholic Church rectory. Bullock was sentenced to two life sentences without the possibility of parole May 11, 2016, and filed to appeal Feb. 14 of this year.

In his appeal, Bullock claimed his Miranda rights were violated during an interview with Eureka Police Detective Ron Harpham and an unnamed investigator from the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office.

“... [Bullock] eventually asked, ‘Can I see a lawyer?’ ” the appeal states. “However, the detective neither stopped the interview nor took steps to clarify appellant’s intent. Instead, he continued to question appellant.”

The interview continued after the request for an attorney, according to the appeal.

The California Attorney General’s Office disagreed, stating in its brief that Bullock demonstrated his understanding of his rights, “and revealed his own motivations for continuing the interview.”

Oral arguments for the appeal were heard at the appellate court in San Francisco on Dec. 6.

Bullock is being represented by San Francisco-based attorney Victor Morse. Deputy Attorney General Katie Stowe represented the state.

This reporter’s attempts to contact both attorneys on Tuesday afternoon were not immediately returned.

Will Houston can be reached at 707-441-0504.