Charges dropped in elder abuse case
February 28, 2008
Felony charges filed against a Truckee man accused of assaulting his 74-year-old mother have been dismissed for lack of evidence.
Truckee Police arrested Terry Gunder, 55, in late October after receiving reports that he had assaulted his mother, said Sgt. Dan Johnston in a news release.
However, Gunder pleaded not guilty to the charges in December, claiming his mother, Shirley A. Monchamp, suffered from a mental condition due to the amount of medication she was taking, Gunder said.
“This was an unfortunate situation, and my mother was extremely sick, and it all just caught up with her,” Gunder said in a phone interview Thursday. “With the medications she was on, it was too much and a wrong combination.
“Drugs do funny things to the psyche,” he added.
Following the arrest, Monchamp relocated to Phoenix to live with her sister where Gunder continued to send her money.
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But Monchamp passed away on Feb. 25 from gastrointestinal complications, Gunder said.
“She’s not suffering anymore, and I have that to be thankful for,” he said. “I took care of my mom for six years, and did the best I could with her.”
Gunder’s defense attorney, Treva Hern of Reno, said not only were charges dropped because of Monchamp’s medical condition, but also because of a lack of evidence supporting the case.
Gunder had videotaped the alleged attack, which showed his mother chasing him with a knife, evidence Gunder used to show his innocence , Hern said.
“He wasn’t even thinking about the evidence, he was just trying to show how upset she was,” Hern said by phone Wednesday.
Additionally, Lynn Jefferson of Nevada County Adult Protective Services had experience working with Monchamp, and helped with the case by verifying her mental state, Hern said.
“This woman [Jefferson] made the most difference because she knew the history of the situation and how erratic the mother was, and she too believed she [Monchamp] was probably getting confused from the medication,” Hern said.
Gunder is a retired firefighter with the U.S. Forest Service in Truckee, and had been his mother’s paid caretaker since 2001.
He said he has lived in Truckee for 20 years, and now works for Caltrans.
“This has been really difficult on me, and I’m not that type of person,” Gunder said. “I’m sorry if I caused anybody any grief or skepticism about my character.”