Judge sets bail for Hunters, trial date still to be set

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A trial for Congressman Duncan Hunter and his wife could be somewhat soon, a federal prosecutor told a judge at their arraignment Aug. 23 on campaign finance charges.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Phil Halpern said the prosecution was ready for trial soon and that Hunter and his wife “have known about this investigation for a while.”

A trial date could be set on Sept. 4, the next court appearance for Hunter and his wife, Margaret Hunter, if their attorneys feel they are ready to set a trial date.

A trial for Congressman Duncan Hunter and his wife could be somewhat soon, a federal prosecutor told a judge at their arraignment Aug. 23 on campaign finance charges.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Phil Halpern said the prosecution was ready for trial soon and that Hunter and his wife “have known about this investigation for a while.”

A trial date could be set on Sept. 4, the next court appearance for Hunter and his wife, Margaret Hunter, if their attorneys feel they are ready to set a trial date.

The investigation into the use of campaign funds by Hunter (R-Alpine) and his wife has gone on for nearly two years, but the exact charges were revealed when they were indicted by a federal grand jury on Aug. 22.

They both pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, three counts of using campaign funds for personal expenses, 43 counts of wire fraud, and 13 counts of falsifying records for campaign finances in records from 2010 to 2016.

Hunter repaid his campaign approximately $60,000 to account for personal expenses charged to his campaign. However, the charges say he and his wife used $250,000 in campaign funds that are only meant for campaign purposes.

Margaret Hunter worked as her husband’s campaign manager and there were repeated references to her notes that were attached to hundreds of expenditures in the 49-page indictment.

“Wait for the verdict – this is politics at its toughest,” said Duncan Hunter, Sr., to television reporters later. “We’re going to win this trial. We’re going to win this election.”

Hunter, Sr. won the district in 1980 and retired to let his son run for his House seat in 2008.

The indictment specifies a number of businesses in Santee, El Cajon, La Mesa, Alpine and elsewhere where the Hunters shopped allegedly using campaign funds. The falsifying records charges were filed to the Federal Election Commission.

“We don’t think they are a flight risk,” said Halpern to Gallo during the arraignment.

Gallo set bond figures of $15,000 and $10,000 respectively for Duncan and Margaret Hunter. They remain free.

Hunter is running for re-election on Nov. 6 and both he and his father faulted the election for the timing of the indictment.

Sailor to stand trial for murder

A sailor was ordered August 21 to stand trial for murder in the stabbing death of another Navy man in his own Lakeside condominium.

Dylan Edward Poston, 26, is accused of killing Anderson Lopes, 24, in a dispute over Lopes’ wife on March 6 in the 13800 block of Pinkard Way.

According to testimony at the preliminary hearing, Lopes discovered Poston asleep in a bedroom and struck him with a hollowed towel rack pole from the bathroom.

Poston did not fight back initially, but eventually he stabbed Poston at least five times in the 10:35 p.m. incident, according to testimony.

Poston’s attorneys, David Shapiro and Stefano Molea, asked El Cajon Superior Court Judge Jeff Fraser to only order a trial on manslaughter, and not murder charges.

Deputy District Attorney Kristina Gill said this was not a self-defense case. She said Poston repeatedly stabbed Lopes and his heart stopped after he lost so much blood.

Fraser noted that many murder cases involving jealousy often has the husband killing his wife’s lover.

“Here, the boyfriend kills the husband,” said Fraser.

The judge said he was “not here to act as a jury,” but ordered him to stand trial for murder on the basis of probable cause. A trial date will be set on Sept. 5.

“While we are disappointed in the ruling holding Mr. Poston to answer to the murder charge, we are encouraged by the state of the evidence which came out of today’s hearing as we believe it reaffirms the strength of Mr. Poston’s self-defense claims,” said Shapiro afterwards.

Dr. Vivian Snyder, a forensic pathologist, testified several wounds were likely fatal as two of them went 3-4 inches deep and hit his lung. His aorta was also pierced.

“All the wounds contributed to total blood loss,” said Snyder.

Fraser drastically reduced the $3 million bail to $300,000. Poston remains in the George Bailey Detention Facility and has pleaded not guilty.

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