Deliberations begin in Fisher's murder trial

Standby attorney says defendant isn't competent

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

Published:

Updated: April 29, 2013, 6:43 PM

 

The case of a 43-year-old Brush Prairie man accused of killing his father in August 2011 is now in the judge’s hands.

Clark County Superior Court Judge Barbara Johnson will decide the fate of Troy Fisher, accused of killing his father and stealing money from his bank account.

During jury selection Fisher changed his mind and asked for a bench trial, where the judge determines guilt or innocence. He also chose to represent himself, with a court-appointed attorney standing by to answer procedural questions.

Those weren’t the only things unusual about the first-degree murder trial, which lasted six days. The body of Edward “Bud” Fisher has never been found, though an expert witness testified his blood was found on jagged pieces of carpet hidden in a thicket in Amboy.

Fisher’s standby attorney, Bob Yoseph, made a motion Monday asserting that Fisher is incompetent to defend himself. He asked the judge to appoint him as Fisher’s defense attorney and to give him at least two months to prepare a defense.

Fisher keeps making statements “pointing to all the reasons why this hasn’t be a fair proceeding; I don’t know that I agree with him,” Yoseph said. “He either has not been listening or has not been processing the things I’ve been telling him for the past two months.”

Yoseph said after consulting with fellow defense attorneys over the weekend, he concluded he had an ethical responsibility to express his concerns about Fisher’s ability to defend himself.

Fisher objected to ­Yoseph’s motion.

“I would really like to wrap this up,” Fisher said. “I’ve been (in jail) for 19 months. I don’t think I’ve had my questions answered. I don’t know how to explain it, but I’m really tired …”

Johnson allowed Fisher to go forward with his defense. Fisher did not take the stand, but he called seven witnesses, including his mother, his sister, a friend, two acquaintances of his father and Clark County sheriff’s Detective Kevin Schmidt. The defense case took about an hour.

Questions focused on witnesses’ observations about his father’s history of alcoholism and mood swings, pre-existing stains on the carpet and renovations at the Fisher home, of which carpet replacement might be an ordinary part.

In closing statements, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Camara Banfield said the defendant’s taped confession, in which he told police he shot his father twice in the Brush Prairie home where they lived together, led investigators to the carpet soaked with Bud Fisher’s blood. A forensic scientist on Wednesday confirmed that the DNA in the blood matched that of Bud Fisher’s and that the likelihood of it matching someone else’s was 1 in 260 quadrillion.

Troy Fisher also said in the confession that he obtained the PIN numbers to his father’s bank accounts from Bud Fisher.

“We believe it was the night of the murder, and we believe it was by force, and we believe he did that because he intended to kill his father,” Banfield said.

Troy Fisher used those PIN numbers the night of his father’s death, withdrawing hundreds of dollars in cash, and purchasing fire logs and charcoal, Banfield said.

When investigators served a search warrant at the home, they found one of Bud Fisher’s ATM cards in the console of Troy Fisher’s Jeep and another on a kitchen island next to the defendant’s driver’s license, she said.

The defendant told investigators that he destroyed his father’s body by burning it in a trash pile at Bud Fisher’s home at 20808 N.E. 172nd St. However, a forensic anthropologist testified Wednesday that it would have been impossible.

Banfield said the murder was aggravated by the fact that Bud Fisher could not defend himself because of a leg injury (He walked with a cane). The prosecutor also alleged that Troy Fisher was in a position of trust caring for his father while he recovered from the leg injury. Finally, she said Troy Fisher has shown a lack of remorse, illustrated when he used his three children to help clean up the crime scene.

Troy Fisher’s closing statement expressed dissatisfaction with the investigation by Clark County Sheriff’s Office and argued that the prosecution had failed to prove he murdered his father.

“The police went out to people spreading seeds that this happened,” Fisher said.

“The state failed to prove who cut out the carpet,” he said. “The state took no steps to prove how the carpet got into the woods …”

It’s unclear when Johnson will decide on a verdict. She said it would take her time to go through evidence.

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