Expert: Dead man's body couldn't be cremated in yard

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

Published:

Updated: April 24, 2013, 7:52 PM

 

A forensic anthropologist testified Wednesday that a Brush Prairie murder suspect’s story that he cremated his father’s body in a trash pile in their yard is impossible.

Troy Fisher, 43, accused of murdering his dad, Edward “Bud” Fisher, in August 2011, told investigators in a taped interview Sept. 19, 2011, that he shot his father twice, after his father confronted him with black 22-caliber semiautomatic pistol, and then destroyed his father’s body by burning it in a trash pile in Bud Fisher’s yard at 20808 N.E. 172nd St.

The father and son lived together at the home, and Troy Fisher worked in Bud Fisher’s forklift repair business.

“Absolutely, unequivocally, a body was not burned at that site,” said Dr. Katherine Taylor of the King County Medical Examiner’s Office.

In order for a body to be reduced to ashes, it must be burned for at least a couple of hours at temperatures of 1,400 to 1,600 degrees, too hot for an open-air fire, Taylor said. Even then, bone pieces could remain recognizable, she said.

On Wednesday, the third day of Troy Fisher’s trial, the Sept. 19, 2011, recording was played for Clark County Superior Court Judge Barbara Johnson, who will decide a verdict in the case. Fisher, who is defending himself, opted Tuesday to send a pool of jurors home and instead have a bench trial in which the judge acts as jury.

He is accused of murdering his father and then withdrawing thousands of dollars from his father’s bank account.

The location of Bud Fisher’s remains is a vexing mystery to investigators and the victim’s family.

Search-and-rescue teams spent a total of 746 hours on four separate occasions scouring miles of Clark County for his remains, said Clark County sheriff’s Sgt. Kevin Allais.

Before trial, Troy Fisher was offered a plea deal in exchange for telling prosecutors where to find the remains. The offer, which the defendant rejected, was a sentence of 20 years in prison, said Troy Fisher’s mother, Joan Fisher.

If Troy Fisher is found guilty, Johnson could impose a significantly longer sentence than that. The murder charges come with aggravating factors, including use of a firearm and victimizing a vulnerable adult, which allow for an even lengthier sentence. Bud Fisher could be considered a vulnerable adult at the time of his death because he was recovering from a work-related leg injury and needed the help of a wheelchair, walker and cane to walk.

In Troy Fisher’s account of his father’s death, his father, then 67, was the aggressor.

“He told me to come into the living room,” Troy Fisher said in the recording. “When I walked around the corner, he was pointing a gun at me.”

Troy Fisher said his father was screaming at him for failing to complete a siding job he’d begun on the house, according to the recording.

The defendant told investigators that a struggle then ensued. He said he placed his hand on his dad’s left shoulder and tried to grab the pistol. His dad tried to roll away, and the gun went off, shooting a bullet into Bud Fisher’s head. When Bud Fisher fell to the ground, Troy Fisher said he shot his father again in the back, according to the recording.

“Did you tell anybody?” asked Clark County sheriff’s Detective Todd Barsness in the recording.

“No, I shot my dad,” Troy Fisher replied in a shrill voice. “I shot my pop.” Then, Fisher is heard weeping.

The teenage children of Troy Fisher testified Wednesday that their father enlisted their help in removing damaged carpet from their grandfather’s manufactured home, where, prosecutors say, their grandfather was killed.

Fisher’s 13-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son said their father said their grandfather ran off to Germany with an old flame.

Both children testified that there were holes cut out of the carpet. They helped to remove the rest of the carpet and haul it to a truck waiting at the front door.

Their father explained that they had to clean up their grandfather’s house because police were coming to see Troy Fisher, the daughter said.

During the recorded interview, Troy Fisher told detectives he had disposed of the missing carpet pieces, which were soaked in his father’s blood, somewhere in Amboy. Investigators later recovered the bloodied carpeting.

Stephenie Winter Sermeno, a forensic scientist with Washington State Patrol, said blood found on the pieces carved out of the Fisher home’s carpet matched Bud Fisher’s DNA by a probability of 1-in-260 quadrillion.

The children also said their father bought them new bicycles, video games and other gifts after their grandfather disappeared.

Troy Fisher smiled tenderly and waved at his daughter before cross-examining her. He called his son “Buddy” at one point.

He asked whether he had bought them video games before their grandfather vanished, and both said he had. He also asked questions that were intended to establish that the carpet removal was part of overall renovations at the house.

The trial resumes at 9 a.m. Thursday.


Paris Achen: 360-735-4551; http://twitter.com/Col_Courts;http://facebook.com/ColTrends;paris.achen@columbian.com.