Bunch pleads guilty on assault with weapon

By Eleanor Guerrero
Thursday, July 12, 2018

Photo by Eleanor Guerrero

David Merle Bunch changes his pleas to guilty on charges of Assault with a Weapon and Aggravated Driving under the Influence in Carbon County District Court.

On Wednesday, June 27, in Carbon County District Court, David Merle Bunch filed a plea agreement and pled guilty to various counts. He is charged with three counts: assault with a weapon, a felony, partner family member assault (PFMA) , a misdemeanor, and aggravated DUI, a misdemeanor.

He was represented by Brad Arndorfer with Carbon County Attorney Alex Nixon representing the State.

Bunch faces charges up to 21 years in state prison and up to $51,000 in fines or both.

Judge Blair Jones noted, “…The court is free to impose any lawful sentence that could be imposed…greater than that recommended…” and if so, the defendant could not withdraw his pleas.

Bunch pled guilty to Counts 1 and 3. In pleading guilty he admitted to having a pistol on the table that would “cause his wife apprehension” after she asked for a divorce. He admitted his breath when tested later was over .21.

Arndorfer said Bunch has a “drinking issue.” He observed, “A lot of this is over Mr. Bunch’s mental state and anxieties over being divorced. He has been incarcerated for a period of time.” He believes Bunch realizes if he drinks, the plea agreement may “go out the window. He has a large lever over his head.”

In an affidavit filed with the Court on April 10, it is stated that on March 24, the Carbon County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch received a call regarding a male pointing a gun at his wife in Fromberg. Deputies Chad Glick and Randy Kramer responded. Following direction from Dispatch, Kramer reported to Fort Rockvale where he identified Bunch leaving the parking lot and with the assistance of Trooper Bill Bullock, stopped the defendant’s vehicle. Testing by breathalyzer is alleged to have shown a result of .301. The defendant was arrested.

It is further alleged that Glick spoke with the spouse and she alleged that the defendant claimed she had cheated on him and pointed a semi-automatic pistol at her and reportedly stated, “Well, this is my gun” in response when she “pushed Defendant regarding divorce.”

Bunch allegedly told her the pistol was loaded and said to her “Get your s### and get out.” According to the information, defendant went to Fort Rockvale several times and at one point when told by the bartender someone was not present that he was allegedly “going to hurt him (the man not present) or maybe even shoot him between his f****** eyes.”

When told later on his return to the bar by Howard he could not bring his gun, according to the Affidavit, Bunch allegedly said if he did, “you just might be one of the first mother f******* I shoot.”

Ardorfer made a plea for Bunch to be released on own recognizance, with SCRAM unit and standard conditions. “He’s got a lot of family issues, including a divorce and his daughter recently wrecked a vehicle.”

Nixon said, “The State asks for the order to remain in place, Unfortunately, there were a great number of violations alleged while he was on release, far more than alleged originally in the state’s petition” to revoke release (which the state is withdrawing in favor of the change of plea).”

“But,” he added, “Mr. Bunch seems to benefit from being monitored closely. As it is there are new felony allegations that occurred while he was on release.” Bunch’s previous release could not be “described as anything but a disaster.”

Jones reduced Bunch’s bond from $25,000 to $15,000 with all conditions reimposed, including a SCRAM unit and GPS device.

If the Court accepts the plea, Count two, PFMA would be dismissed and Bunch would be sentenced later on Counts 1 and 3.

The plea agrees to a three year deferred sentence on Count 1 and all but two days suspended with Count 3, with surcharges and one year with SCRAM unit, and a separate deferred prosecution agreement required for the two misdemeanors.

Nixon said, “The State will also forego filing a new felony charge but it will remain viable depending upon how Bunch performs under supervision.”

Nixon said he believes there is no previous felony record but if there is found to be a prior felony conviction, not just a charge, the deferral of charges agreed to in the plea would be off.

If convicted of the felony assault with a weapon, a person shall be imprisoned in the state prison for a term not to exceed 20 years or be fined not more than $50,000 or both. If the victim is a partner or family member defendant is required to pay for and complete a counseling assessment.

A person convicted of aggravated driving under the influence shall be punished by a fine of $1,000 and a term of imprisonment for not less than 48 hours or more than one year.

Sentencing is set for Sept.

6.

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