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In the afternoon evidentiary hearing for the murder trial of Gary Lee Bullock, prosecutors played security video from St. Bernard’s Catholic Church property captured on the night Bullock allegedly murdered Father Eric Freed, and they played part of a phone call Bullock allegedly made from jail to his grandma, pleading with her to bail him out.
Bullock was still during this morning’s proceedings, but this afternoon he turned fidgety, bouncing his leg absentmindedly under the table as he sat next to his defense attorney, Kaleb Cockrum.
Deputy District Attorney Andrew Isaac began the afternoon hearing by describing the nine-camera, motion-activated security system installed at St. Bernard’s, which captured footage of Bullock moving around the property between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m. on New Year’s Day 2014.
Isaac was assisted by District Attorney investigator Martin Perrone, who has been assigned to computer crimes and serves as the DA’s office’s technology expert. Perrone queued up several clips from the surveillance system, including a split-screen image showing the views of all nine cameras in the system. Later he zoomed in on one specific camera view that showed Bullock approaching the front door to the church rectory at roughly 1:07 a.m. He could be seen knocking, trying the doorknob and peering into an adjacent window.
This and other video clips were first played in court back on Jan. 17, 2014, for a preliminary hearing. This and other evidence was presented today as foundational evidence to be admitted for the upcoming trial. As the footage continued to roll, Bullock could be seen wiping his nose with his sleeve, waiting at the door with his hands clasped calmly in front of him and meandering around the front of the church property before wandering off.
Cockrum tried to challenge the admissibility of the video, saying the person who installed and monitored the security system should be the one to speak to its validity, rather than a DA investigator, but Judge John T. Feeney ultimately received the videos into evidence.
Isaac next called District Attorney Investigator John Burke, who testified about how the jail records phone calls and visitation conversations. Isaac had Perrone queue up a phone conversation between Bullock and his grandmother from Jan. 7, 2014.
After an automated message explaining that the call was coming from an inmate and would be recorded, Bullock could be heard saying, “Hello? Grandma?”
A woman’s voice responded, asking him how he was.
“Not good,” he replied. “I need to see you. … I need to be bailed out.” He could be heard telling her she should put her house up as the $120,000 collateral needed to cover his $1.2 million bail.
“No!” the woman replied emphatically. “I will not lose my house over your drug use.” Moments later she declared, “You killed somebody!”
“No I didn’t,” Bullock replied, saying he needed to see her to explain it. He asked his grandma if she planned on leaving him “in here [jail] for a year.”
Isaac said he plans to introduce at least three other recorded conversations into evidence. Cockrum again objected to the admission of these recordings, saying Burke was “one step removed” from the actual recording process and thus couldn’t speak to the integrity of the recordings. But again Judge Feeney admitted them into evidence.
Lastly, Isaac showed the beginning of a split-screen video showing the interview room at the Eureka Police Department. Bullock could be seen entering the room along with Burke and EPD Detective Ron Harpham. Burke said the interview, conducted shortly after Bullock was brought into custody, lasted about four hours.
That video was admitted, along with two large satellite images printed out on card stock, one showing the church grounds and another showing a wider view of downtown Eureka.
The trial is scheduled to continue Tuesday at 8:30 a.m.
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