The 27-year-old man who broke into and destroyed a Kalispell health clinic has filed an appeal with the Montana Supreme Court arguing that he should not have to pay more than half a million dollars in restitution.
Zachary Klundt was sentenced to 20 years in prison with 15 suspended and forced to pay more than $600,000 in restitution after he pleaded guilty to theft, burglary and criminal mischief. The sentence came 15 months after he vandalized All Families Healthcare in March 2014.
At the time of the break-in, All Families Healthcare was the only abortion provider in Northwest Montana and many believed the vandalism was politically motivated.
On Oct. 6, Chief Appellate Defender Chad Wright and Assistant Defender Chad R. Vanisko filed an opening brief with the Montana Supreme Court. In the appeal, the attorneys argue that the restitution in the case was too high and that District Court Judge Ted O. Lympus should have lowered the amount demanded by the victim, Susan Cahill, owner of All Families Healthcare.
At the June 2015 sentencing, Klundt was ordered to pay Cahill $320,000 for three years of lost wages; $61,124 to cover a reduction of Social Security benefits because Cahill retired three years earlier than planned because of the incident; approximately $8,395 in reduced IRA contributions; $208,546 for damaged property and the value of the business; $1,575 for six months rent while she closed the business; $8,796 for the salary paid to her assistant after the clinic closed; $418 for a storage unit; more than $2,000 for counseling; $2,280 for a home alarm system and approximately $3,500 for other miscellaneous items.
The attorneys argue that while Klundt damaged physical property at Cahill’s business he did not destroy the intangible assets of the clinic and that she could have sold it to another owner.
“Cahill had a duty to mitigate her damages, but failed to do so,” attorneys wrote. “It was Cahill’s own decision not to market the business following the incident and to allow its value to drop to nothing.”
Klundt’s attorneys also argue that Cahill could have found another job after the incident and did not have to retire early because of the break in.
“It was her personal choice to discontinue her employment for three years rather than return to work (before her planned retirement),” attorneys wrote. “Cahill set forth no reason why she was unemployable for the remainder of her life due to property damage.”
Klundt is requesting that the court reverse the restitution order in the case.
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. He was charged with multiple counts of burglary, criminal mischief and theft and initially pleaded not guilty. In 2015, Klundt reversed his plea and admitted his role in the health clinic break-in. As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors agreed to drop the charges related to the other break-in.
Klundt was sentenced in June 2015. Over the course of a three-day hearing, prosecutors argued the young man had targeted Cahill’s office because he was against abortion. Among the evidence presented to the judge was a text message from Klundt to his mother asking, “What is the abortionist’s name?”
Defense attorney Peter Leander argued that Klundt struggled with depression, drug addiction and alcohol and that his personal views had nothing to do with the break-in. Instead, the attorney argued, Klundt was trying to get drugs.
A few months after Klundt was sentenced, Cahill filed a civil lawsuit against the defendant and his family. In the lawsuit, Cahill alleges that Klundt did not act alone in the break-in and accuses his parents, Kenny and Twyla Klundt of helping the man. Klundt’s parents were affiliated with Hope Pregnancy Ministries, a pro-life resource and pregnancy center headquartered in Kalispell. The lawsuit is set to go to trial in 2017.
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