An attorney for a California divorce lawyer accused of murder in Arizona says he expects that his client will get released from jail early next week in response to a judge's decision that threw out a jury's guilty verdict in the case and ordered a new trial.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Karen Mullins had granted a request Friday from prosecutors to dismiss the case against 54-year-old Robert Fischer of Irvine and ordered his release from jail. But the judge postponed the effective date of the ruling until Monday, because if it took effect Friday, she would lose jurisdiction of the case and therefore wouldn't be able to rule on a pending issue.
Still, Dwane Cates, an attorney for Fischer, says his client is expected to be released from jail on Monday or Tuesday.
Fischer was convicted in December of second-degree murder in the December 2010 shooting death of his stepdaughter's husband, 49-year-old Norman "Lee" Radder, at the home of Radder and his family in Queen Creek. Fischer was visiting the family when Radder died of a single shot from Fischer's handgun into Radder's right eye after an evening of drinking.
Authorities contend Radder's death was staged as a suicide. Fischer's attorney, however, has suggested Radder was suicidal, saying he was experiencing financial and marital difficulties.
Prosecutors, who are continuing to press the case against Fischer, had asked the judge to dismiss the case in a procedural move that clears the way for their appeal of the judge's Feb. 28 decision that concluded the case's evidence didn't support the jury's guilty verdict.
The dismissal was sought by prosecutors to get around a requirement that a new trial for Fischer begin within 60 days. The 60-day clock stopped when prosecutors, whose appeal is expected to take months to resolve, asked the judge to dismiss the case.
The Maricopa County Attorney's Office, which prosecuted Fischer, stresses that the case isn't over. "We intend to continue to pursue this case," office spokesman Jerry Cobb said.
While the judge granted a new trial based on the case's evidence, she is also being asked by Fischer's attorney for a new trial on the grounds that a prosecutor committed misconduct in presenting his case. The judge is expected to decide on Monday or Tuesday.
Fischer's attorney has alleged a prosecutor prejudiced his client by posing a question to an investigator who told jurors that none of the people he interviewed said Radder was suicidal, even though the judge had previously ruled that no one could give opinions on Radder's propensity for suicide.
The County Attorney's Office said the prosecutorial misconduct allegations are meritless and said the investigator's single mention of Radder's lack of suicidal tendencies was unintentional and didn't constitute misconduct.
According to court records, a gun was found in Radder's right hand despite him being left-handed, and blood spatter indicated Fischer was in close proximity to the victim when he was shot. Fischer's attorney has said his client was ambidextrous and that there were photos taken of him in that past that showed him using his right hand to take pictures, use power equipment and pick up various items.
The judge had also ruled that DNA evidence indicating Radder had handled the gun and its magazine required her to conclude there was reasonable doubt that Fischer is guilty of the crime.
The judge also noted that the state's entire case rested on a detective's testimony theorizing that, based on blood spatter, Fischer staged the scene and moved Radder's body to make it look like a suicide. Mullins wrote in her ruling that the detective was a "fledgling in the field of blood spatter, and his conclusion that the defendant manipulated the scene was not supported by the physical evidence, rendering it wholly lacking credibility."