Timothy Pearce on Glenn Sunkett
by Tim Stelloh, February 17, 2010
I wrote a story this week about how Glenn Sunkett--the Oakland man convicted of orchestrating a brutal home invasion on the coast two years ago--has been trying to fire his court-appointed attorney for presenting what he says was a wholly unprepared defense during his trial last summer.
Sunkett, who's claimed innocence since his arrest in September 2008, has so far been unsuccessful.
I'd tried contacting county jail Commander Timothy Pearce for the story to respond to complaints Sunkett (and his lawyer) made about how Sunkett has been treated at the jail. Pearce didn't catch me before deadline, so his few brief comments didn't make it into the print version of this story; I've included them below.
First, Sunkett's allegations: He says he's been shackled 24/7 since November, even while he takes a shower; he says he's been kept in isolation since last March for unexplained reasons; he says his food has been poisoned; he says a jail guard told him he'd be the one to put a bullet in Sunkett's head if he tried to escape.
Pearce declined to discuss any of Sunkett's complaints, saying he expects Sunkett to sue the jail in the near future. ("I'm waiting to be served," he said.) Pearce may be right. Jeffrey Fletcher, a private attorney from Sacramento who's helped Sunkett on his case, detailed the above allegations in a letter to Pearce and other county officials last December. Though he requested a meeting with those officials, Fletcher said recently that he never heard back from anyone. Yet Fletcher also said his "assignment" with Sunkett was temporary, so it's not clear who would do the suing, as Sunkett's only attorney, at the moment, is Linda Thompson, who Sunkett is not exactly wild about.
Pearce did say Sunkett was a "security risk," yet charges brought against the inmate for an alleged escape attempt last September were dropped by prosecutor Jill Ravitch (who successfully prosecuted Sunkett for the home invasion) during a preliminary hearing. For this reason, Pearce said, Sunkett gets a beefed-up security detail whenever he's transported to a court hearing (in one instance, a wing of the courthouse was closed down for fear of what Sunkett was planning).
"We don't do that for everybody," Pearce said. "You have to earn your way there."
Sunkett, meanwhile, is clueless as to why everyone thinks he's planning a Wild West-style escape.