Jury clears Kunstek in elder abuse case

The Associated Press
Saturday April 13, 2002

SANTA ROSA — A Sonoma County jury has cleared James Kunstek of elder neglect in the death of an 89-year-old Monte Rio woman. 

Jurors said after the decision was announced Thursday — his 65th birthday — that they felt Kunstek had done all he could to help longtime friend Ruby Griggs, and that she had chosen not to seek other care. 

Kunstek had faced up to nine years in prison. “I’m just happy it’s over. I’ve gone through two years of hell,” Kunstek said. Prosecutor Spencer Brady said he was disappointed, but acknowledged it was a tough case. 

“The photographs were shocking, but the issues were complex,” he said. Kunstek was arrested in March 2000 at the home left to him by Griggs.