In the fifth day of Troy Fisher’s trial Friday, the pro se murder defendant’s resolve to present a defense broke down.
After Clark County Superior Court Judge Barbara Johnson sustained repeated prosecution objections to Fisher’s questions to his sister, Terrie Hasan, the defendant returned to his seat, let out a big sigh and said, “I need a lawyer.”
Seconds later, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Camara Banfield announced that the state rested its case, signaling the beginning of Fisher’s defense against charges that he murdered his father, Edward “Bud” Fisher, in August 2011. His remains have never been found.
Friday morning, defense witnesses, including Fisher’s three children, three sisters and mother, were waiting outside to be called to testify.
Fisher requested a recess to consult with his advising attorney, Bob Yoseph, whose only role in the trial is limited to answering Fisher’s technical questions.
Following the break, Fisher asked Johnson to allow Yoseph to take over the defense.
“I don’t think I can do this anymore,” Fisher said.
He said he couldn’t figure out how to present the case or do the proper courtroom procedures.
“As you know, I advised you that it’s not a good idea to represent yourself in court … and you decided to represent yourself in this case,” Johnson replied.
Given that Yoseph had not prepared to present a defense, she said, it would be unethical to ask him to do so on the spot.
Fisher then requested to recess the trial until Monday so that he would have more time to prepare.
“I think he is delaying the inevitable,” Banfield said, after objecting.
At first, Johnson denied a delay until Monday but agreed to a more than two-hour recess Friday to give Fisher more preparation time.
But after the recess, Fisher asked again to postpone the rest of the trial until Monday, and Johnson granted the request.
“My access to the courts has been violated numerous times,” he said. He said he was allowed to hire a private investigator less than four months ago. He also said he had asked for a continuance of the trial, but Johnson said the record didn’t reflect that.
Fisher also raised concerns that Johnson might be prejudiced against him.
During jury selection Monday, “You said, ‘This happened on … ’ then you said, ‘Excuse me, allegedly happened. …’” Fisher said.
Notably, on Tuesday, Fisher asked the judge to excuse the pool of potential jurors and opted to have a bench trial in which Johnson would decide his guilt or innocence rather than a jury.
The chain of events Friday happened after Fisher asked Hasan about her time in the military, a line of questioning apparently aimed at eroding her credibility. She had just testified for the prosecution that a man who bought their father’s service vehicle after his disappearance had found Bud Fisher’s wallet and medications in a plastic bread bag inside the vehicle and returned the personal belongings to her.
During the testimony, Banfield pulled the items out of paper evidence bags and asked Hasan to identify them. Hasan said the wallet and medications belonged to her father.
Troy Fisher, 43, is accused of murdering his father, Bud, then 67, at their Brush Prairie home, 20808 N.E. 172nd St., and then withdrawing money from his father’s bank accounts.
Bud and Troy Fisher lived together at the father’s home, and Troy Fisher also worked in Bud Fisher’s forklift repair business.
Troy Fisher told investigators in a taped interview Sept. 19, 2011, that he shot his father after his father confronted him with a black .22-caliber semiautomatic pistol. He said in the recording that his father was shot accidentally in the head during a struggle with the defendant. He said he shot his dad again in the back, according to the recording played Wednesday in court.
Investigators found carpet soaked with Bud Fisher’s blood in a thicket in Amboy and jagged holes in the carpet at the Fisher home, where it appeared someone had cut out segments.
Troy Fisher’s defense is scheduled to continue Monday.