Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Dale Reinholtsen on Friday placed a Redway man accused of killing Rev. Eric Freed in the St. Bernard Catholic Church rectory on a no-bail status at the request of the prosecution and issued a gag order sought by the defense.
Gary Lee Bullock, 44, has been in jail since his arrest in Briceland on Jan. 2. At Bullock's arraignment on Monday, Judge John T. Feeney set bail at $1.2 million. Bullock is accused of attacking Freed with a metal pipe and a wooden stake on New Year's Day after breaking into the popular priest's residence in Eureka through a window.
Reinholtsen noted that Bullock could face the death penalty under the current charge of murder with the special allegations of torture and committing the crime during the course of a first-degree residential burglary. Bullock, who has pleaded not guilty, also faces charges of attempted arson and vehicle theft.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Bullock allegedly attempted to destroy the rectory by placing a lit cigar on a stove with the gas turned on, but the cigar went out. A fire set with liquor-soaked blankets that were wrapped around Freed extinguished itself, the document states.
”Based on a review of the file, I'm going to the grant the motion and indicate Mr. Bullock is being held on no bail,” Reinholtsen said.
Bullock's defense attorney, Conflict Counsel Kaleb Cockrum, had asked Reinholtsen to allow the $1.2 million amount to stand, saying his client has extensive family ties to Southern Humboldt and he lived in the area most of his life.
Cockrum told the court that Bullock was unemployed at the time of his arrest, but had been a professional truck driver. He said his client is married and has children.
”He would tell the court he would come back, if he was able to raise bail,” Cockrum said.
Deputy District Attorney Elan Firpo told the court that Bullock was a flight risk and would pose a danger to himself and the community if released.
Bullock was in court for the brief hearing dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit. Officials said earlier this week that he is being held in isolation for his protection.
Reinholtsen also tentatively granted a gag order requested by the defense, pending a hearing on Wednesday to confirm the order's parameters.
The order essentially prevents local law enforcement and attorneys from discussing the case, which has garnered worldwide media attention.
Bullock's preliminary hearing is currently set for Thursday. Cockrum declined to waive his client's right to a speedy trial during Bullock's arraignment, which pushes the legal process along at a faster pace than is normally seen in most serious felony cases. The date could be changed during an intervention hearing scheduled for Wednesday.
In an interview earlier this week, Eureka Police Chief Andrew Mills said the department has people working full-time on the case, the processing of evidence has been expedited and the state Department of Justice was called in from the very beginning to aid in the investigation.
”We will move heaven and earth to do what we can to have this put together,” he said.