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Detective describes scene of CA priest's killing

EUREKA, Calif. (AP) -- A Northern California police detective described in a preliminary court hearing the gory scene following the brutal killing of a popular priest.

Eureka Police Department Detective Todd Wilcox testified Thursday that the body of the Rev. Eric Freed was found wrapped in sheets in a ransacked upstairs bedroom.

The suspect, 44-year-old Gary Lee Bullock of Redway, is charged with attacking Freed with a metal pipe and a wooden stake after breaking into the St. Bernard Catholic Church rectory before attempting to blow up the historic building.

Freed's dead body was found when he failed to show up for 9 a.m. Mass.

The coroner's office found that Freed died of blunt-force trauma.

Bullock has pleaded not guilty to attempted arson, vehicle theft and murder with the special allegations of torture and committing the crime during a residential burglary. He could face the death penalty.

The Eureka Times-Standard reports that Wilcox testified that the sheets and blankets were wet, that the room smelled of alcohol and that three empty whiskey bottles were found near the body. Several items were pressed against the body, he added under questioning from Deputy District Attorney Elan Firpo. Those items included a sealed offering bag, crumpled wet newspapers and a calendar that had been set on fire, Wilcox said. Weathered pieces of wood were near the door, which had been forced inward from the hallway, he said.

Wilcox then described bloodstains in the bathroom sink, on the shower and on soap bars. A table in the den area of the bedroom had evidence of blood and hair and a bedroom mirror had a large red smear in the middle, he said.

“The body was on its back and it was wrapped, not covered, but wrapped all the way around with what looked to me to be bed clothing,” Wilcox testified.

He also described Freed's injuries, saying they included a cut on his nose, chin abrasions that appeared similar to rug burns, small pieces of wood embedded in his knees, scratches on his lower legs, and two circular, red injuries that appeared to be the same diameter as the metal pipe.

Testimony in the preliminary hearing is scheduled to continue Friday.

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Information from: Times-Standard, http://www.times-standard.com

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