A Columbia Falls man says he was intoxicated and looking for drugs when he broke into and vandalized a Kalispell health clinic last March.
Zachary Klundt, 25, made the admission on Thursday morning during a change of plea hearing in Flathead County District Court. Klundt pleaded guilty to charges of burglary, criminal mischief and theft, all felonies, stemming from a March 2014 break-in at All Families Healthcare in Kalispell.
Three other charges related to break-ins at Glacier Log Mill and Lazarus Log Homes in Columbia Falls were dropped as part of the plea agreement.
The Kalispell break-in made headlines across the state because the clinic was the only healthcare facility in Northwest Montana that provided abortions, a fact that many in the community believed motivated Klundt to target the clinic. But during the change of plea hearing, Klundt’s defense attorney Peter Leander said it was fueled by an effort to find drugs.
Leander said Klundt was being treated to deal with anxiety and depression, but in the days before the March 3 break-in he stopped taking his medications and began to drink heavily.
During his change of plea hearing, Klundt read a prepared statement from the stand in which he apologized to the victims of the crimes, specifically All Families Healthcare’s owner, Susan Cahill. During the statement he said that although he is against abortion, that did not come into play during the break-in.
“I harmed and hurt many people by what I did last March, but no one was hurt more by my actions than Susan Cahill,” Klundt said. “It is true that I am pro-life… (But) what I did to you Susan does not reflect my values.”
Following the hearing, Cahill said she was happy Klundt had apologized and hoped that it would help the community heal.
“He destroyed my livelihood and my future and he needs to pay restitution for that,” she said. “But I’m glad he apologized because I think this will put all of us on the path to healing.”
Klundt will be back in court on June 11 for sentencing. According to court documents, prosecutors will recommend Klundt be sent to the Montana State Prison for 20 years, with 15 years suspended, for burglary. They also recommend he receive two 10-year suspended sentences for theft and criminal mischief to run concurrently.
The defense will recommend that minimum fines and fees be imposed so that Klundt can better pay restitution.
According to charging documents, Klundt broke into All Families Healthcare in downtown Kalispell on the night of March 3, 2014 and vandalized the facility, damaging furniture, medical instruments and supplies, as well as filing cabinets. Additionally, officers found a yellow powder, later determined to be from a fire extinguisher, covering “almost everything.” Further investigation into the basement of the First Avenue East building revealed damage to the main sewer line, the furnace and the water heater. Officers also found damage on the outside door leading to the basement, consistent with someone trying to break in from the outside.
Klundt was arrested on the evening of March 4 after allegedly attempting to break into Bob’s Bail Bonds on South Main Street in Kalispell.
When the officer approached Klundt, the officer noticed the butt of a handgun in Klundt’s jacket. The officer removed the gun, which he said was loaded with a full magazine and a spare magazine in the holster.
Officers reported observing cuts on Klundt’s hands and finding glass shards in his pocket, and about $915, believed to be stolen from the clinic, in another pocket. They also allegedly matched Klundt’s shoe tread pattern to that of the impression found at the clinic.
A search of Klundt’s residence turned up several boxes of medical supplies, along with medical documents, all of which were reported missing from the clinic.
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