The prosecution and defense agreed — Derek Charles Gunderson was not in his right mind when he pointed a Ruger .380-caliber handgun at his father in November 2018.
Friday morning, Gunderson, 38, pleaded guilty by mental illness to aggravated assault in violation of the state Family Violence Act, false imprisonment and possession of a firearm during commission of a felony.
According to the indictment against him, Gunderson stole from his father’s residence an AR-15 rifle, an undisclosed amount of money and a 2014 Infinity Q70. Gunderson later turned himself in to authorities.
Although the charges of robbery are being dropped, Gunderson agreed to pay restitution for the stolen items. He received a sentence of five years in prison and 25 years’ probation, with the condition he pay back his father $42,700 in restitution. A $1,500 fine will be suspended upon full payment of the restitution. Gunderson is also banished from St. Simons Island and required to enroll in a family violence intervention program.
Also Friday was the first part of a Jackson-Denno hearing regarding the matter of 77-year-old James Chew, who was indicted on two counts of child molestation. Such hearings take place to determine whether a defendant’s statements to law enforcement are voluntary or involuntary.
Assistant District Attorney Thomas Buscemi called to the stand Lt. Anthony McGann of the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office in Sebring, Fla. McGann said the HCSO received a request for assistance from the Glynn County Police regarding accusations of child molestation against Chew.
McGann said he went by the defendant’s house twice without finding him there, and made two unsuccessful phone calls. Chew later called him back and said he was out-of-state at the time, but would get back in touch. McGann said Chew eventually met up with him at the Children’s Advocacy Center in Sebring.
It was there that McGann told Chew he was under suspicion for molesting his granddaughter. They spoke for a while and McGann said Chew told him he knew he was being recorded in the room in which they were sitting, and asked to speak further, outside.
McGann said he grabbed and turned on a digital recorder and met Chew outside where Chew told him he was a sex addict and that the actions with this granddaughter were a lapse in judgment, admitting to specific acts. McGann also said Chew never asked for an attorney during this process.
During cross-examination, McGann said Chew was not mirandized at any time during the interview and was allowed to leave following it.
He also said he didn’t reveal to Chew he had a digital recorder on him while they were talking outside the building.
In discussions with Glynn County Superior Court Judge Stephen Kelley, defense attorney Jay Abt said he’d received discovery around 10 days ago and needed more time to properly handle the matter. Kelley announced the hearing would resume on Sept. 9.