An Aug. 4 trial date was set for Redway resident Gary Lee Bullock, who again pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to charges of murder, attempted arson and vehicle theft -- with special allegations of torture and committing the crime during a first-degree residential burglary -- in connection with the Jan. 1 death of Eureka priest Rev. Eric Freed.
Handcuffed and clad in an orange jail jumpsuit during his rearraignment after a judge's decision last month to hold him over for trial, Bullock wore an impassive expression throughout the short proceeding, occasionally shifting his eyes from the wood railing he stood before to Humboldt County Superior Court Judge John Feeney.
When asked by Feeney if he would waive his right to a speedy trial, Bullock looked at him and responded, "Yes, your honor."
Bullock is accused of breaking into the St. Bernard Catholic Church rectory in the early hours of New Year's Day, a few hours after being released from Humboldt County jail, and beating Freed to death. Bullock is also accused of attempting to burn Freed's body and blow up the rectory before stealing Freed's Nissan Altima. He then allegedly drove the car to his mother and stepfather's house in Southern Humboldt.
Freed, a beloved St. Bernard priest and lecturer for the Humboldt State University Religious Studies Department, was found dead in the church rectory later that morning after he did not show up for the 9 a.m. Mass. After receiving a call from Bullock's wife on Jan. 2 -- the same day a warrant was issued for Bullock's arrest -- Bullock's stepfather drove him to meet up with law enforcement officers. The stolen car was found on a service road near the family's residence covered in branches, according to testimony during Bullock's preliminary hearing.
A trial date was set for Aug. 4 at 8:30 a.m., preceded by a pretrial hearing on May 7 at 2 p.m. and a trial confirmation hearing on July 2 at 2 p.m.
Will Houston can be reached at 707-441-0504 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Will_S_Houston.