Klundt gets 5 years, has to pay $669,000

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Family members cry as Zachary Klundt is taken into custody following his sentencing on Thursday in Flathead District Court in Kalispell. On the right are Klundt’s sister Katie Aly and father Kenny Klundt. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

Zachary Jordan Klundt was given a five-year prison sentence on Thursday and ordered to pay more than $669,000 in restitution for destroying a Kalispell health clinic.

The sentence capped a three-day hearing that included hours of testimony. Klundt was convicted of felony burglary, theft and criminal mischief for his rampage through All Families Healthcare in the early hours of March 4, 2014.

The clinic was the only facility in the area to provide first-trimester abortions. Clinic owner Susan Cahill had 38 years of experience in the valley as a physician’s assistant. She closed her business following the break-in.

Just before District Judge Ted O. Lympus handed down the sentence, Klundt, 25, adjusted the microphone and took a long pause before speaking to the court.

He addressed the controversy surrounding the motive that led him to break into All Families, which offered abortions as part of its service. He said that any speculation that based the crime on a pro-life belief was “conspiracy” and asked that the larger Christian community be removed from the microscope.

“Please leave them alone because I am the guilty one,” Klundt said.

Klundt had claimed that he destroyed the clinic in an intoxicated search for prescription drugs. Defense attorney Peter Leander went to great lengths to explain Klundt’s deep addiction to pills and alcohol, as well as mental illnesses. He repeatedly highlighted the dark mental space that Klundt suffered through.

But throughout the sentencing hearing, prosecuting attorney Stacy Boman held that the evidence didn’t point to a random act of violence.

“His claims in his change-of-plea that his actions on All Families Healthcare that he was there to find drugs rings hollow,” Boman said during closing arguments Thursday.

The final sentence reflected Boman’s recommendation.

The damage to the clinic inflicted by Klundt was widespread. He stole medical records and poured iodine on those left at the clinic. Holes were punched through the faces of family photos.

Every framed glass picture was smashed, including a banner that read “Do unto others as they would do to you.” In testimony, a Kalispell police captain said that nearly everything that could be accessed was damaged.

More evidence arose during the sentencing hearing. 

Klundt texted his mother the evening before the break-in, asking where the “abortionist” worked. On Thursday, it was revealed that he called Cahill a “murderer” while talking with a psychologist after his arrest. 

Cahill, who had described not being able to sleep following the incident, was clear that she felt like a victim of a crime against pro-choice advocates.

“You did a really, really terrible thing to me, my patients, my family and my future,” she told Klundt from the witness stand on Thursday, “and you need to be held accountable.”

Of the total restitution amount, $642,000 will go to Cahill for lost wages, damages and other costs. She had planned to ease into retirement in less than five years. 

In the wake of the destruction, she leased a small office for six months and quietly tied up loose ends with her patients. She had to tell more than 400 patients to find another medical care provider.

Following the sentencing, Cahill spoke about the larger legacy of this trial. 

She said that groups opposed to pro-choice stances need to stop using terms such as “murderer,” which foster violence.

“We need to have conversations that will help us and not divide us,” she said.

In his final statement, Klundt said that he was more than 15 months sober and had continued treatment programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous. He called himself a “new creation” since spending six months in jail. His attorney argued that prison would slow that recovery.

His father, Kenny Klundt, said after the hearing that he’s confident in his son’s progress. He said the demons of addiction don’t haunt his son anymore.

“You can send him to prison, but he’s been set free,” Kenny Klundt said.

In his closing argument, defense attorney Leander called the incident a single bad night that sticks out from all others in Klundt’s life.

Cahill testified that this wasn’t the first time she had been the victim of a raid on a pro-choice clinic. She began her work under Dr. James Armstrong, one of the first doctors to provide safe abortions in the valley. 

In 1994, the clinic was firebombed by a Washington man who had attacked several other facilities.

Now it appears she is out of business for good. 

Her husband, Steve Martinez, said after the hearing that they will take some time to vacation and assess their situation.

When they return, he said they plan to visit Klundt in prison. He said that this way, the path to recovery might be made — both for Cahill and for Klundt.

Zachary Jordan Klundt, 25

 

An emotional Susan Cahill leaves the courtroom with her husband, Steve Martinez, following the sentencing Thursday of Zachary Klundt for destroying Cahill’s medical clinic in March 2014. In the background is Cahill’s sister Kathleen. (Brenda Ahearn photos/Daily Inter Lake)

 

Deputy County Attorney Stacy Boman gives her summation at the Zachary Klundt sentencing hearing on Thursday, June 18, in Kalispell. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

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