Man found guilty in Merced County stalking case

MERCED, Calif.

Keith Gallagher sat quietly in court as he heard the jury's verdict: guilty on two counts of felony stalking and three counts of misdemeanor vandalism.

Matthew Serratto said, "I think that this crime had quite a bit of effect on the victims, and I think the jury did the right thing."

The victims in this case are Merced County court commissioner /*Gerald Corman*/, and his wife /*Christine McFadden*/. Gallagher began sending threatening letters to their home last year, shortly after Corman issued a temporary order granting his ex-wife full custody of their twin boys. Gallagher also spray painted an obscene message outside the couple's home, and wrote vulgar messages in chalk outside the courthouse.

Prosecutors say it was especially frightening for McFadden, who gained national attention after her ex-husband murdered her four children in 2002. She testified in the case against Gallagher.

Serratto said, "Given her circumstances and everything she's been through she really showed a lot of bravery and was a terrific witness, one of the most… just in my couple years of doing this, probably the most powerful witness I could have ever had on a trial."

The defense attorney did not want to speak on camera, but argued during the trial that Gallagher was just exercising his right to free speech. He also told jurors Gallagher never made any physical threats. But Sheriff Mark Pazin says the 55 year old appeared to be heading in dangerous direction.

"If you're unhappy with a court decision, there's a process in place," Sheriff Pazin said. "He went above and beyond the process, and who knows what would have happened."

Gallagher is facing a maximum of four years in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for next month.

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