At Large 

The East Bay sniper is still free. At least, so say some of the people who jailed the wrong man.

Page 9 of 9

Still, some Northern California law-enforcement officials remain quietly peeved about how the CHP handled the sniper case. They also believe the criminal justice system was manipulated wrongly, and that 23 months is an unfair sentence for Gafford. "It was a pooh-butt lab," one of them said. "It should have gotten him no more than probation. There are much worse cases out there. He got screwed. He ended up doing federal time, because these guys fucked up."

Gafford's mom, Margo Geyer, and her husband, Brian, are just as furious. Brian Geyer calls the highway patrol "arrogant cowboys" for labeling Chris as the sniper when they had such little evidence to back it up. "I was enraged -- I still am," he said of the arrest of his stepson in the shooting case. "Any public agency that behaved as bad as the CHP doesn't deserve the public trust."

Under his federal plea agreement, Gafford surrendered any right to appeal. He is now housed at a federal prison camp at Nellis Air Force Base outside Las Vegas, where he spends his days toiling in the prison kitchen and lifting weights after work. At night, he calls his family collect. Sativa hasn't yet been down to see him; Las Vegas is a long drive, and she just landed a new dental-assistant job. Her new job came as a relief, because the couple lost medical insurance when Chris was arrested in the sniper case and Savannah, now five years old, has a chronic illness. He will get credit for time served since his arrest and is scheduled to be released in October.

Although Chris loves his wife and says he harbors no animosity toward her, Sativa is still racked with guilt that she caused the whole ordeal by first calling the police on her husband fourteen months ago. She and her parents also remain deathly afraid of the CHP, even with Helmick gone. They're scared of angering the highway patrol or doing anything that could put Chris at further risk. "Will they harass him when he gets out?" Sativa said worriedly. "We're afraid of them. Look at what they've done to this family."

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