New details in Merced County judge stalking case

FRESNO, Calif.

Cameras were not allowed in the courtroom as attorneys gave their opening statements in the trial of Keith Gallagher. The 55-year-old is accused of stalking a superior court commissioner and his wife. He's also facing three counts of vandalism. Gallagher pleaded not guilty during a video arraignment in March.

prosecutors say Gallagher started sending threatening letters to the couple last year after the commissioner granted an emergency order giving Gallagher's wife full custody of their twin sons, who are now 14. Gallagher cried as these pictures were shown in court. The victims in this case also have twins, and one of the letters they received said, "Hopefully your twins will eventually have a better understanding of what a scumbag their dad is."

Prosecutors also say Gallagher spray painted vulgar phrases on the home of the commissioner and another judge involved in his case, and that he used chalk to write expletives along with the commissioner's name in three different places outside the courthouse.

The deputy district attorney went on to tell jurors Gallagher applied to buy a gun shortly after he started making threats. The defense attorney in the case does not deny any of the allegations against Gallagher, but says the father was only exercising his right to free speech after being heartbroken by the court ruling that separated him from his sons. He also claims his client never made any physical threats toward anyone. Gallagher faces a maximum sentence of four years in prison if convicted.

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