Testimony Continues at Health Clinic Vandal Sentencing

Sentencing of the man who broke into and destroyed the Flathead Valley’s only abortion provider will continue on Thursday

By Justin Franz
Zachary Klundt listens to testimony durng the second day of his sentencing hearing in Flathead County District Cour. Justin Franz | Flathead Beacon

The sentencing hearing for the man who broke into and destroyed a Kalispell health clinic will stretch into a third day.

At Wednesday morning’s hearing, Zachary Klundt’s sister talked about how her older brother struggled with depression and how he turned to drugs and alcohol when his marriage fell apart. Kate Aly said Klundt had mental issues that were never properly addressed and he was on a “crazy amount of antidepressants” before he broke into and destroyed All Families Healthcare on March 4, 2014.

The clinic, owned and run by Susan Cahill, was the only medical facility in the Flathead Valley that provided abortions. While the defense has argued that the 25-year-old man was simply looking for drugs when he broke in, prosecutors have suggested that Klundt’s motives were political because he opposed abortion. Klundt’s mother sat on the board of Hope Pregnancy Ministries, a local Christian group that is against abortion.

Klundt’s sister, Aly, said that although her brother has long struggled with his mental health, he is a loving and caring person who never had any violent tendencies. However, his mental struggles deepened after his wife of four years left him, she said.

“The divorce was devastating for Zach,” she said. “March 1, 2014 would have been his sixth wedding anniversary and that was when he took a turn for the worst.”

On March 3, Klundt texted his mother asking for information about the “abortionist,” just hours before he broke into Cahill’s office. Inside the office, Klundt flipped tables, stabbed photos and paintings and threw patient files. He also took a video of the damage. Klundt was arrested on the evening of March 4 trying to break into another Kalispell business.

Klundt was charged with burglary, criminal mischief and theft. He pleaded guilty two months ago.

Besides introducing character witnesses, Wednesday’s hearing spent a lengthy amount of time trying to determine what type of restitution Cahill should receive for her losses. Prosecutors have asked that Klundt pay more than $500,000 to cover the loss of Cahill’s business, which remains closed, and the salary she might have made if she had been able to keep working for the next three years.

Security at Wednesday’s hearing was considerably tighter than the previous day, and a metal detector was stationed at the front door of the courthouse. The hearing, which went into recess early Wednesday afternoon, will continue Thursday at 1:30 p.m.

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.