• Marijuana Growers Could Lose Their Son


    PALM SPRINGS (CNS) – Closing arguments are set for this morning in the
    trial of a Wildomar couple accused of growing marijuana who could lose custody
    of their son if found guilty.
    William Bunn, 36, and his 28-year-old wife, Mary, face felony charges of
    cultivating marijuana and willfully endangering the health of a child.
    William additionally is charged with a felony count of possessing a firearm
    within 10 years of a prior conviction.
    The Bunns were arrested in 2008 when investigators found 79 live
    marijuana plants growing in a detached garage at their rural Wildomar home,
    according to prosecutors, who say the building was equipped with paraphernalia
    indicative of marijuana cultivation, including artificial lighting, a climate
    control system and independent hoses for each plant.
    Investigators said they also found 2.05 grams of marijuana in various
    places within the Bunns’ home and a glass smoking pipe that appeared to be
    recently used.
    A .380 semi-automatic handgun was found on a shelf above the
    refrigerator, with three live rounds sitting next to the weapon and a .12 gauge
    shotgun was found in a bedroom, with live ammunition nearby, prosecutors
    allege.
    The Bunns’ son was 22 months old at the time of the August 2008 search
    and was taken from the couple for several months.
    “Both defendants in this case are responsible for the care and safety
    of the child,’ said Riverside County District Attorney’s Office spokesman John
    Hall. “The residence where the child lived was found to contain marijuana,
    weapons and an apparently recently used marijuana smoking pipe.’
    The husband and wife could each face more than seven years in prison if
    convicted, meaning they would lose custody of their child while incarcerated.
    Just before the investigators served the warrant at the Wildomar home,
    the Bunns were in the process of joining of the Human Kindness Center, a
    marijuana cooperative based in Temecula, according to its president, Chris Yap.
    Though the Bunns had not completed all the requisite paperwork by the
    time the investigators searched their home at 25550 Catt Road, Yap testified
    Thursday that he rented the barn from the couple and maintained the plants were
    his.
    “He was in exclusive control of the grow room located in the Bunns’
    residence and was the only one with the key,’ said Deputy Public Defender Bob
    Semnar, Mary’s attorney. “The District Attorney’s position is that they were
    operating it, but there has been no evidence presented they were actually seen
    in the grow room at any point.’
    Tim Liebaert, William’s attorney, said the set-up was no different than
    others viewed as legal by the state.
    “One of the problems in the law is you can come out and hire a whole
    warehouse to grow marijuana, but the owners of the warehouse don’t have to be
    in the cooperative, they don’t have to have a license,’ Liebaert said. “Why
    are the Bunns any different?’
    Yap contends that prosecutors have wasted county money pursuing the case
    and overcharged the couple on the child endangerment offense. He said his
    residence was also searched around the same time, but he was not arrested
    because officers deemed his cultivation center legal.
    “It’s a waste of taxpayer dollars when we’re allowed by law (in the
    collective) to do what we’re doing,’ Yap said. “I’d rather see more police
    out on the street, more firemen, more teachers.’
    Speaking on behalf of Deputy District Attorney Greg Garrison, Hall
    denied the Bunns were inappropriately targeted or charged.
    “Based on the evidence in this case, which included more than 75
    marijuana plants, we filed the charges we believe to be most appropriate under
    the law,’ he said.
    The case was initially expected to be tried at the Southwest Justice
    Center in Murrieta, but was instead sent to Palm Springs.

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