Day in court for alleged Merced judge stalker

MERCED, Calif.

Merced resident Keith Ryan Gallagher, 55, was arrested over the weekend for allegedly threatening two judges who presided over a child custody dispute.

Keith Gallagher entered a not-guilty plea to all four felony counts of stalking and vandalism. For the safety of the judges Action News decided not to identify them.

A Merced County superior court judge read the criminal charges against Keith Gallagher in a video arraignment. Gallagher is charged with two counts of stalking and two counts of vandalism.

According to sheriff investigators, Gallagher was sending letters to two judges presiding over a child custody dispute. Gallagher is currently unemployed and asked the judge for a public defender.

Action News has learned that Gallagher used to be a substitute teacher for the Merced city school district. The last record of him subbing in the district was in 2005, when he was getting a divorce.

Court documents show Gallagher was upset about a decision made in family court about a child custody issue. The judge in the case granted Gallagher limited visitation rights with his two children.

Last weekend, Merced County sheriff detectives say Gallagher acted on his strong feelings. Two judge's homes were tagged with vulgar messages using spray paint.

During a search of the suspect's apartment, investigators uncovered evidence that was revealing about his intentions. Gallagher had applied to purchase a handgun.

Merced County Sheriff, Mark Pazin said, "I feel very comfortable that our folks did the right thing at the right time and that we got on this right away over the weekend."

The judge also granted the DA's request for a restraining order against the suspect.

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