WAYNE, Mich. (WJBK) - Tears were shed and prayers were said as the 26-year-old man accused of murdering a family member with an ax entered the courtroom.
Jesse Gundersen is being chaged with first-degree murder, accused of fatally striking his stepgrandfather in the head with an ax Saturday evening. It happened in the backyard of his stepgrandfather's home in Wayne. Gunderson had moved there just a few weeks ago from Fresno, Calif.
"It happened extremely fast, quiet; there was no indication this was going to take place. These are two people and loved themselves, each other, supported each other," says Robert Porte. He is Jesse's uncle and the victim's stepson.
The family of both Gunderson and the victim, 58-year-old Danny Dart, are holding onto their faith in God and fighting to keep the now-unexplainable tragedy from tearing them apart.
"We all support him, too. We are a Christian loving family. We understand the pain of the people who have lost. We have lost a loved one. This is a hard place to be in," Porte says. "Our advice to [Jesse] is going to be, open your heart. Your best offense is going to be to be truthful."
If convicted on the murder charge, Gunderson will spend life in prison without the possibility of parole. He is due back in court next Tuesday, October 13. Meanwhile, he is being held without bond.