Murder suspect extradited to CA to face charges

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A Barstow Police officer escorts Christion Leonard Bunty to be booked at the San Bernardino County Jail on Saturday. (Photo courtesy BARSTOW POLICE DEPARTMENT)

SANDPOINT — A Cocolalla man has been extradited to California to face first-degree murder charges that date back to 1995.

Christion Leonard Bunty Sr. was booked into the San Bernardino County Jail on Saturday, Barstow Police detectives said in a news release. Bunty was fighting extradition and a hearing on the issue was set for Feb. 5 in Bonner County.

However, the Idaho governor’s office, at the request of the governor of California, ordered the release of Bunty for extradition. Barstow Police arrived in Idaho on Friday to take custody of Bunty.

Bunty, 40, was arrested without incident on the California murder warrants by Idaho State Police on Dec. 3, 2012. He was being held at the Bonner County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail.

Bunty, also known as Christian Bunty, was subsequently ordered held without bail after San Bernardino County prosecutors filed notice that they intend to seek a life sentence without parole.

More than 20 of Bunty’s family, friends and coworkers packed a courtroom earlier this month as a show of support, but Judge Barbara Buchanan declined to release him or set bond due to the severity of the charges.

Bunty and an accomplice are accused of luring two men to their deaths by offering to sell them ephedrine, an ingredient used to manufacture methamphetamine. Barstow detectives, however, contend there was no meth precursor and only a plan to rob Mark Wayne Adamson and Joseph Gerald Riley.

Adamson and Riley were reportedly never seen after going to meet Bunty and James Linzy Franklin, detectives assert. Their remains have never been recovered.

Bunty relocated to Idaho in the mid-1990s, where he appears to have lived a mostly law-abiding life. Outside of a misdemeanor drug conviction in Boundary County and traffic tickets, Bunty has no prior criminal record here.

Linzy, 41, ended up being convicted in an unrelated homicide in Big Bear, Calif. He is serving a life sentence without parole in a California prison, according to published news accounts.

Prior to coming here, authorities in California allege Bunty was part of a crew that robbed drug houses in crime-infested neighborhoods in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

Bunty’s family insists he is innocent and the victim of a vendetta by authorities in California.

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