Accused murderer Alva Curtis Gussler became the first person to be arraigned via Skype in Grayson County.
Skype, an online application which allows people in different locations to have real-time video conversations, was deemed the best option due to Gussler’s medical status. The 84-year-old, who was arrested on January 4, has been bed-ridden for a number of years.
Judge Kenneth H. Goff, II presided at the arraignment and set a pretrial hearing for Thursday, January 17 at 1 p.m. Gussler is expected to make a real-life appearance in the courtroom on that date to face charges that he fatally shot 59-year-old Laura Ford and wounded his son, 48-year-old Michael Gussler following an altercation at their Tara Lane home in Clarkson.
Before signing off of Skype, 84-year-old Gussler, who is being held on a $50,000 cash bond, asked Goff, “Do I get to go home?”
Goff replied, “No, sir.”
When asked whether the use of the new technology was deemed successful on the jail’s end, detention center representative James Stanton said “I felt like it went very well.”
According to Bo Thorpe, with the GCDC, it would have been difficult to get Gussler into the courtroom because he is confined to a hospital bed. Thorpe explained that in order to accommodate Gussler’s special needs, a cell in the medical pod of the detention center had to be deconstructed in order to fit a hospital bed into it.
“We had to cut out a metal bunk,” Thorpe explained, adding, “He does present some unusual circumstances for us.”
Thorpe explained that an arrangement has been made to transfer Gussler to the Kentucky State Reformatory in LaGrange, a facility which is equipped to handle his medical needs. The date of the transfer has not yet been determined, and may or may not happen prior to the January 17 hearing.
Gussler, who was assigned a public defender on Thursday morning, agreed to media interviews to be conducted at the detention center, however, after speaking with a representative from the public defenders office, all interviews were cancelled.
Public defender Landon Tingle, who said he will likely not be representing Gussler in the courtroom, explained that because his office had only been assigned to the case for a matter of minutes prior to the arranged interviews, there would be no comment from either Gussler or his attorney at this time.