SANDPOINT — A 40-year-old Cocolalla man implicated in a 1995 double homicide in California pleaded not guilty on Friday, according to published reports.
Christion Leonard Bunty remains held without bail despite a defense request that he be released on $100,000 bond with electronic monitoring, The Desert Dispatch reported.
Bunty, also known as Christian Bunty, was arrested last December in Bonner County on a California warrant alleging two counts of murder and single counts of conspiracy to commit murder and second-degree robbery.
He was ordered held without bail pending extradition to Barstow, Calif., which occurred last month. A magistrate court judge here declined to set bail due to the severity of the charges against Bunty.
While extradition was pending, scores of friends and family turned up in court to support Bunty. A contingent of supporters also showed up when a Barstow Superior Court judge arraigned him and took up the matter of bail.
Bunty’s defense counsel, Eric Chase, argued that his client has strong ties in Idaho and is not a flight risk. Chase added that the evidence against Bunty is weak and it would be “virtually impossible” to obtain a conviction.
“For the last 17 years, (Bunty) has led an exemplary life,” The Desert Dispatch quoted Chase as saying during the hearing.
San Bernardino Deputy District Attorney Sean Daugherty argued there was ample reason to hold Bunty without bail. No bail can be imposed when special circumstances are alleged and Bunty faces two — multiple homicide and robbery.
Barstow Superior Court Judge John Gibson denied the defense request for bail to be set, the paper reported.
Barstow Police allege Bunty and James Linzy Franklin killed Mark Wayne Adamson and Joseph Gerald Riley. The alleged victims disappeared after reportedly meeting up with Bunty and Franklin to purchase a stimulant used to manufacture methamphetamine.
Authorities believe Adamson and Riley were robbed and killed, although their remains are unaccounted for to this day.
Franklin, 41, is already serving a life sentence for an unrelated homicide in Big Bear, Calif.
A preliminary hearing in Bunty’s case is set for Feb. 28, The Desert Dispatch reported.