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
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
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
“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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