Local businessman held on California murder charges - Bonner County Daily Bee: Local News

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Local businessman held on California murder charges

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Posted: Thursday, December 6, 2012 10:00 am

SANDPOINT — A Cocolalla man was arrested Tuesday for his alleged involvement in a 17-year-old double murder in California.

Christian Leonard Bunty is charged in San Bernardino County with two counts of murder and single counts of conspiracy to commit murder and second-degree robbery.

Bunty, 40, is being held at the Bonner County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail.

Bunty’s Idaho defense counsel, Larry Purviance, said his client will fight extradition to California. Purviance declined further comment.

A status hearing on the extradition proceedings is set for next month.

Bunty and an alleged accomplice are accused of killing Mark Wayne Adamson and Joseph Gerald Riley in July 1995. Barstow Police detectives believe the two victims were murdered and buried in a California desert.

The alleged accomplice in the killings, James Linzy Franklin, 41, is already serving a life sentence without parole for an unrelated homicide in Big Bear, Calif. He’s currently incarcerated at Centinela State Prison near El Centro, Calif., according to the Desert Dispatch newspaper.

Investigators contend Bunty and Franklin offered to sell the alleged victims ephedrine, a stimulant used to manufacture methamphetamine. But investigators believe there was no ephedrine and the defendants staged the deal in order to rob the men.

Around the time of the killings, Bunty, Franklin and others were suspected of posing as FBI agents and robbing drug dealers at gunpoint in south-central Los Angeles and other communities.

“They would rob drug houses,” said Barstow Police Det. Keith Libby.

Investigators believe the killing of Adamson and Riley was a more violent variation on the crew’s modus operandi of targeting those involved in the drug trade because they would not report the robberies.

“It just falls into the same pattern,” Barstow Police Det. Sgt. Andrew Espinoza Sr. said.

Franklin and a nephew were arrested prior to a robbery in Victorville, Calif. Bunty managed to escape, but later surrendered and was convicted of impersonating a federal agent, investigators said.

Bunty was placed on probation, which was later transferred to Idaho.

Bunty appears to have lived a mostly law-abiding life in Idaho. Aside from traffic and boating violations, Bunty has no criminal record, according to the Idaho Supreme Court Data Repository.

Idaho Secretary of State business entity records indicate he is the owner of A-Team Excavating, a limited-liability corporation in Cocolalla.

A judge in San Bernardino County issued a $1 million arrest warrant on Nov. 28, court records show.

Libby and Espinoza said they interviewed as many as 150 people over the years about the disappearances of Adamson and Riley and their statements have remained largely consistent despite the passage of time.

The Barstow detectives said the assistance of Idaho State Police investigators in Coeur d’Alene proved vital to Bunty’s uneventful arrest at a Sagle restaurant.

“He was surprised and that’s what we wanted,” Libby said.


Information sought

Those with information about Christian Leonard Bunty and his alleged involvement in the disappearance of two men in California are asked to Barstow Police Det. Keith Libby at (760) 255-5134. Those who wish to share information anonymously can call (800) 78-CRIME.

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  • Todd Allen posted at 5:14 pm on Sat, Dec 15, 2012.

    Todd Allen Posts: 210

    SugarPie it is way too easy to prove you wrong. You love using ad hominem don't you, and like all other liberals you make it about yourself instead of the story. Look at me, look at my GPA, look at my reading comprehension level. Once again, I will type VERY SLOWLY for you, read the story and read what I wrote. If there is any grey matter in there you will understand, believe me I have little faith.

  • SugarShane posted at 12:39 pm on Sat, Dec 15, 2012.

    SugarShane Posts: 200

    Poor Todd. Still unable to prove me wrong on anything. Keep up the ad hominem though, that's in the toolbox of the Right.

  • Todd Allen posted at 12:45 pm on Fri, Dec 14, 2012.

    Todd Allen Posts: 210

    SS you prove your comprehension is null. I know your GPA because you feel the need to tell it to me, lord knows why. Yes I get the part he was implicated in a murder and being charged, if you could COMPREHEND anything I am not defending him. I am only pointing out that he was in no way hiding out, never said he was innocent. The authorities obviously knew where he was. Unlike you, I have not made a judgement of this man. It is up to a higher power than I. Keep up the studies Sugar you have a long way to go.

  • SugarShane posted at 12:18 pm on Fri, Dec 14, 2012.

    SugarShane Posts: 200

    Funny how the new story is they are seeking a life sentence, guess I was wrong with all my speculating. Todd my reading comprehension is at a 4th year college level, since you already have memorized my GPA, I won't bother reminding you. @Barstow girl, I grew up in Riverside, I don't know what you think you know or how much insider information you have, but your comments are ignorant and seem to only defend this piece of meth head trash. Prosecutors don't usually seek life sentences based on circumstantial evidence or hearsay. I live in Spokane for college and there is no end to the armchair quarterbacks with their conspiracy theories against law enforcement. Seems every criminal arrested has a passionate belief in their own innocence. Not hiding out because he was using his own name? Did you not get the part about being implicated in murder? Moving thousands of miles away? Trying to blend in? Nope not hiding out, nothing to see here. Well he was never charged you say, ohhhhhh so he MUST be innocent then. Once again, if I murdered someone, got away with it, I would do the same. Move far away and stay out of trouble and hope I just kinda fell off the radar, OR in layman's terms, hide out.

  • Barstow girl posted at 7:35 pm on Thu, Dec 13, 2012.

    Barstow girl Posts: 7

    @todd.. I completely understood what you were saying. Ss has a lot to says our this situation and I am not sure why. He keeps saying people lie to stay out of trouble and I guess no matter how many time I get on here and defend the system people don't understand . Someone put stay and defend yourself, but he was never charge with anything, so what do you defend. This story is such old news that only 5 people comment when the story hit the local paper. I just feel like please don't assume everything you read is fact. If you knew Chris, and he was good to you, like he was to me, remember people deserve Their day in court. May god bless Chris and his family at this time.

  • Todd Allen posted at 8:31 am on Thu, Dec 13, 2012.

    Todd Allen Posts: 210

    @Barstow Girl I have not speculated on this at all, I only questioned how SS could say Chris was hiding out when he was living here under his name. Not hiding at all. I hope for his and his son's sake he is not guilty of this and I know nothing of the case.

  • Luv83864 posted at 7:16 pm on Wed, Dec 12, 2012.

    Luv83864 Posts: 702

    I am pretty certain he could post bail if he really want to. He owns at least a million dollars in heavy equipment. Let the truth be heard. I hope that the daily bee would give the proper coverage now that they have shared the can of worms.

  • Barstow girl posted at 4:58 pm on Wed, Dec 12, 2012.

    Barstow girl Posts: 7

    You people keep speculating on what really happen but the bottom line is you are not from Barstow. Maybe you should google one of the detectives and see that he was sued by a fellow officer for falsifying a police report. Once again, don't be fooled by what you read in a news paper. There is so much about Barstow you don't know. If you have a question... Ask them and I will do my best to answer but that article gives about one tenth of the story. This has gone on for a long time and I hope it ends soon

  • Todd Allen posted at 12:15 pm on Tue, Dec 11, 2012.

    Todd Allen Posts: 210

    That is much to easy a goal to attain. "Acting like an upstanding citizen while concealing the fact that you have been involved in murder to me is pretty much hiding out." You have a funny definition of hiding out. Hiding out would be using a different name and not letting the probation office know where you were. It is not about semantics it is about comprehension!

  • SugarShane posted at 10:57 am on Tue, Dec 11, 2012.

    SugarShane Posts: 200

    " Larry Purviance, said his client will fight extradition to California." apparently I did because I copy pasted this right from the article. "Bunty appears to have lived a mostly law-abiding life in Idaho." They didn't have enough evidence, he moved up here and was keeping his nose clean. If I had murdered someone, I would likely do the same thing. Acting like an upstanding citizen while concealing the fact that you had been involved in murder to me is pretty much hiding out. I'm pretty sure it's your goal in life Todd to somehow prove me wrong about something. Semantics will get you nowhere with me.

  • Todd Allen posted at 1:33 pm on Mon, Dec 10, 2012.

    Todd Allen Posts: 210

    " If he was innocent, he would have stayed and faced the charges in my opinion, not be hiding out in N Idaho." Did you even read the article? He was not hiding out here in North Idaho. The article clearly states he was placed on probation which was transferred to Idaho.

  • SugarShane posted at 11:48 am on Mon, Dec 10, 2012.

    SugarShane Posts: 200

    "Don't speculate on what the "new evidence" could be. " followed up by "He was looking for a fresh start away from a tiny town and all that drama that goes with living here. " pure speculation even if it came right out of his mouth. People lie to stay out of trouble and that's no speculation.

  • Barstow girl posted at 8:44 am on Sun, Dec 9, 2012.

    Barstow girl Posts: 7

    It is hard to have DNA with no bodies. Don't speculate on what the "new evidence" could be. Originally I commented on this article because I wanted people to understand there are lots of sides in this case. You people in Idaho don't know Barstow or the police department. You don't know the detectives or their reputation. You read one article and decieded to be judge and jury. Maybe he is fighting extradition because he can't get a fair trial in Barstow. Don't read one article with information Provided by two detectives and think it is all true. Last of all, no one was ever hiding in Idaho. Anyone close Chris and his wife knew where they moved.He was looking for a fresh start away from a tiny town and all that drama that goes with living here.

  • bonnerben posted at 5:29 pm on Sat, Dec 8, 2012.

    bonnerben Posts: 291

    I agree that attorneys do everything they can to keep their clients out of jail, however, Mr. Bunty is in jail. He can't get out unless he comes up with a million dollar bond. Fighting extradition only delays his journey to justice. Going to court to prove innocence is costly. Fighting extradition only increases that cost.

    It doesn't sound like he was hiding out in North Idaho. Reading between the lines, it looks like he has been a suspect in this case, but there was not enough evidence to charge him. My guess is that the detectives came up with some new evidence, possibly DNA, and brought a cold case back to active status.

    I don't know this guy, and I'm not judging him. If I were innocent, I would demand a speedy trial, and get back to my life.

  • SugarShane posted at 2:05 pm on Sat, Dec 8, 2012.

    SugarShane Posts: 200

    @bonnerben, an attorney will do everything in their power to keep you out of jail, that's their job, going to court to prove innocence would be costly. If he was innocent, he would have stayed and faced the charges in my opinion, not be hiding out in N Idaho. Let the courts sort it out.

  • bonnerben posted at 9:51 am on Sat, Dec 8, 2012.

    bonnerben Posts: 291

    I agree that he is innocent until proven guilty. If I were in this situation, and knew I was innocent, I would waive extradition, go back to California, and demand a speedy trial. This would put the situation behind me, and allow me to get back to my family and business.

    Question: Why, according to his attorney, is he fighting extradition?

  • Corey Greve posted at 9:24 pm on Fri, Dec 7, 2012.

    Corey Greve Posts: 977

    I'm going to go ahead and quote myself here, as there seems to be some misunderstanding.

    "If he is proven guilty of murder, and has been running from the law while establishing a new life and business here, he is a bad person. There is no statute of limitations on murder."

    The first word is "IF". That means I have not said he was guilty, I said IF he is proven guilty. If he is guilty, then he was definitely "running from the law". That has nothing to do with his probation.

    I hope that for his sake, and for the sake of his family, that he had nothing to do with the heinous crime, and that it all blows over. I do not know him, but he obviously has many folks around him that are giving him the support he needs..

  • Barstow girl posted at 3:39 pm on Fri, Dec 7, 2012.

    Barstow girl Posts: 7

    Luv83864- Thank you for understanding our (MINE and steff"s) point of view. We both know Chris and his wife. She was our very good friend. I also know there are two sides to every story and I just don"t want people up there to believe one article. Because Barstow is a small town, I also know the two detectives investigating the case. I know people related to the victims.I care about Chris, his wife and their children. I am sure I am one of only a few people who took the time to find this article in a newspaper in Idaho just so I could let people know their are two sides and everyone deserves their day in a court of law. once again may God bless everyone involved and if Chris's wife sees this...keep your head up! and get in touch with us if you need too!

  • Luv83864 posted at 10:52 am on Fri, Dec 7, 2012.

    Luv83864 Posts: 702

    Very well said Barstow Girl and Steff and I knew I would get grief but the fact is he is innocent right now and judgements should be saved. I feel very sorry for the victims for whatever happened. I am not saying I don't see nth sides. I am saying even the most perfect people have made very bad choices. Murder doesn't tap ways mean it was planned or it was a cold blooded event. Preconceived judgements are premature and not fact worthy. I wanted to say also that when I pray, I pray for all three families. Often his wife is on the job sites and she does a great job. They both do, they aren't people who you think twice about leaving your tools around, car unlocked or bring our son to jobsite. Please let this work itself out and give everyone the dignity they deserve,

  • steff posted at 9:49 am on Fri, Dec 7, 2012.

    steff Posts: 1

    I am an old friend of Chris, we were buddies around the time all this happened (17 years ago). I dont know any facts, but I do know Chris, and know he is a great guy and a loving husband and father. I would love to have him as my neighbor. Luv83864 was right in saying," we all make poor choices when growing up." We dont know any facts, I know it's easy to judge.... He is innocent until proven guilty. Prayers for all those in sorrow......

  • Barstow girl posted at 9:39 am on Fri, Dec 7, 2012.

    Barstow girl Posts: 7

    First of all let me say that I am sorry to the victims families for their loss. That being said, I am from Barstow, grew up in Barstow and have known Chris and his wife for a long time. I am not here to pass judgement, that is what a court of law is for. I am here to say you people have already found him guilty without his day in court. We have a process by which this is done. Court of public opinion is fine but give the guy his due process. I felt i needed to respond to a few comments that were made. First of all, Chris was not running from the law. Probation gave him permission to move to Idaho. Second, they talked to over 150 witnesses. No where does it say they have an eye witness. All I ask is that you think about what you did when you were a teenager and remember no one is perfect. We live in a country that has a process, so give that process a chance. I will pray every night for Chris's wife and kids.She always was a good friend to me and I hope God will help them find peace at this time.

  • Luv83864 posted at 10:22 pm on Thu, Dec 6, 2012.

    Luv83864 Posts: 702

    My lesson is don't judge a book by its cover whether he is proved guilty or not. I've re-read this article many times at this point and think I was in shock and just couldn't believe what I was hearing. With so many witnesses its pretty much a good case and conviction will be likely depending on evidence. I am sorry to say I have been fooled and it won't be the first time or the last time.

  • Luv83864 posted at 10:18 pm on Thu, Dec 6, 2012.

    Luv83864 Posts: 702

    Where do you think? Sandpoint with. 3.77 all the way and through collage but grammar doesn't tell what a person may or may not know. My grammar isn't great, so I will improve it.

  • Luv83864 posted at 10:16 pm on Thu, Dec 6, 2012.

    Luv83864 Posts: 702

    I don't really care what any of you have to say. And I have no response I said what I wanted to say. Corey is right after spending all this time creating a new life, living with possibly taking two others lives is pretty bad. And no I wouldn't want him to be my neighbor is he is guilty, but I have worked with him many times. I wouldn't have ever suspected something. There is a convicted murderer in town (Sagle) and by the eyes of many including his neighbors he is a nice and normal guy. Those who know him, have experienced different.
    I knew the juices would be flowing, as they say where there is smoke there is fire.

  • bonnerben posted at 7:37 pm on Thu, Dec 6, 2012.

    bonnerben Posts: 291

    OMG! This is akin to the neighbors reaction when the guy next door is found to be a serial murderer. "he was a nice guy. Always waived when he passed by." We all made poor choices as young people, but MURDER? I would like you to stand in front of the dead person's family and tell them that this guy was an asset to the community and is not necessarily a bad person. Ask them if their dead loved one found him to be "a nice person to be around."

  • MiTurn posted at 6:30 pm on Thu, Dec 6, 2012.

    MiTurn Posts: 36

    Dude, where'd you go to school? Your grammar is embarrassingly bad!

  • Corey Greve posted at 5:58 pm on Thu, Dec 6, 2012.

    Corey Greve Posts: 977

    If he is proven guilty of murder, and has been running from the law while establishing a new life and business here, he is a bad person. There is no statute of limitations on murder.

  • Luv83864 posted at 5:30 pm on Thu, Dec 6, 2012.

    Luv83864 Posts: 702

    Me an my company have worked with an around Chris an his employees on many jobs, he has been helpful an curdious an a nice person to be around. People make poor choices when there young,an can grow up to be an asset to the community like he has. An i am saying this because everyone is innocent until proven guilty an hes not nessarly a bad person.