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Old July 1, 2009, 10:02 AM   #1
nomad65
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Harold Fish gets a retrial

http://www.azcentral.com/news/articl...ense30-ON.html

If you don't know the Harold Fish story (or tragedy in my books), he was convicted of 2d degree murder after he shot Grant Kuenzli during a hike in northern arizona. Fish was aggressively threatened by Kuenzli's dogs and fired a warning shot to scare them away when Kuenzli started waving his arms wildly and running directly at Fish. Fish warned him then shot him when he didn't stop. Fish said he was in fear for his life.

The NBC Dateline story is here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15199221
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Old July 1, 2009, 10:24 AM   #2
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That entire deal was one big mess right from the second those two guys crossed paths.

Everybody involved did some really stupid things.

Prime example of how tragedy doesn't come from one problem, it comes from "cascading failures".

Virtually every action taken in that entire incident, by both parties, was wrong. Problem being, when you use a gun, "wrong" becomes "killer".
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Old July 1, 2009, 10:27 AM   #3
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Awesome news! It is about dern time too!
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Old July 1, 2009, 10:35 AM   #4
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One of the factors in the trial was Fish's use of 10mm ammo as supposedly something extreme. We've debated that quite a bit.

Here's the ruling:

http://www.cofad1.state.az.us/opinio...CR060675OP.pdf

I scanned it and found no mention of guns and ammo type. Given my scholarly interest in those sort of things. I wonder if it will come out again.
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Old July 1, 2009, 10:55 AM   #5
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I hope with the new details the system will be required to produce for potential jurors will cause the DA to opt out of the re-trial...
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Old July 1, 2009, 11:00 AM   #6
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I'd go with Criminally Negligent Homicide instead, with time served and probation for life.
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Old July 2, 2009, 01:36 PM   #7
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The only place where it mentions the gun and ammo are the background

"the defendant dropped his hiking stick, grabbed his 10mm Kimber semiautomatic handgun."

Hope he has some better experts on sd and firearms this time around.
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Old July 2, 2009, 01:48 PM   #8
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I'd be shocked if the DA goes anywhere near a retrial. I'm sure he will be offered a plea which will require no more jail/prison time and that will be that.
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Old July 2, 2009, 02:05 PM   #9
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I wouldn't accept any plea that involves a felony or loss of civil rights, at this point. He's got the momentum now. The DA isn't going to be able to impose any sentence or plea that resembles what the defendant has already endured.
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Old July 2, 2009, 02:07 PM   #10
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I've read some analyses that suggest bringing up the ammo as prejudicial wasn't really relevant to the appeal. Legal reasons.
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Old July 2, 2009, 04:05 PM   #11
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I just finished reading the Arizona Court of Appeals decision in Arizona v Fish.

Whew! If the defense reads the decision that way I just did, the case is almost a slam-dunk for a finding of involuntary manslaughter, if not an outright acquittal.

The seriousness of the errors by the original trial court are bad enough. Here, the Appeals Court, in addressing those errors, hands the defense a roadmap upon how they should proceed upon retrial.

One of the facts that were not generally known, was that the story Fish told the police, when they first arrived, during the investigation, at the Grand Jury hearing and at Trail, never changed.

Whether or not you believe that Fish shot Kuenzli in self defense, you can not argue that he lied about what happened. The appeals court noted several times that the explanation given by Fish never varied in any detail. Fish is either a consummate liar, or he is telling the truth. Occam's Razor applies here.

It would be fair to say that I've changed my mind on the innocence of Harold Fish, based solely upon the errors committed by the trial court.
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Old July 3, 2009, 07:14 PM   #12
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Oh, when I saw the title I was thinking of a guy named Harold Fish who was a serial killer/cannibal in the early 1900's totally different guy
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Old July 4, 2009, 10:41 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Antipitas
It would be fair to say that I've changed my mind on the innocence of Harold Fish, based solely upon the errors committed by the trial court.
Same here, although the facts of the case I have read still give me doubt. Shooting an unarmed man is always problematic and tough for me to see as a good SD claim absent disparity of force. The other issue I see is that he had a walking stick that could have precluded drawing the gun in the first place.
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Old July 4, 2009, 03:41 PM   #14
maestro pistolero
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Quote:
he had a walking stick that could have precluded drawing the gun in the first place.
Which "he" had a walking stick and why would that have precluded drawing?
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Old July 4, 2009, 07:46 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maestro pistolero
Which "he" had a walking stick and why would that have precluded drawing?
Fish had a walking stick that he could have used to ward off the dogs but instead threw it aside and drew his firearm. The dogs weren't wild feral types and Fish knew that and a walking stick probably would have fended them off and not escalated the incident. IMO, if you have the means to defend yourself safely and not use deadly force then you should use the lesser force if available. That is one of the biggest problems I have with what Fish did.
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Old July 5, 2009, 11:08 AM   #16
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Having been attacked by a dog myself, and not a wild rabid dog but a family pet (my uncle's), I have to agree with his decision to draw his gun. He had good reason to fear a life threatening attack from the dogs alone. And I think it's fair to point out that while he could have shot a dog/s, he didn't. He used a pretty good method for scarring them off, an extremely loud noise.

The real issue in this case was whether or not Fish was in fear for his life fro the dogs' owner. I have to agree with the ruling that that matter was handled badly by the trial court. Evidence that would support his story was excluded in order to paint a picture (or, to be fair, that allowed a picture to be painted) in which what Fish said happened didn't happen at all.

There is more than enough reasonable doubt in this case if evidence that goes to support his claim about what he encountered is allowed.

The fact that the man fish shot was unarmned shouldn't even be an issue. The implication is that an unarmed man could not cause you serious bodily harm or death, but the fact is that an unarmed man can do those things. It comes down to whether or not the attacker is willing to do so, and having no prior knowledge of this person the benefit of the doubt must go to the attacked party, Harold Fish.

Unless, of course, Fish is lying about what happened. The evidence doesn't seem to indicate that he has been.
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Old July 5, 2009, 11:14 AM   #17
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If two dogs set upon me simultaneously, damn straight I'd pull the pistol and drop the stick. We are NOT required to arbitrarily limit our response in self defense to some sort of peculiar proportionality test , particularly not against critters.

Last edited by csmsss; July 5, 2009 at 11:21 AM.
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Old July 5, 2009, 12:46 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rampage841512
Having been attacked by a dog myself, and not a wild rabid dog but a family pet (my uncle's), I have to agree with his decision to draw his gun. He had good reason to fear a life threatening attack from the dogs alone.
First of all Fish was not bitten by the dogs they just ran at him. That happens a lot with dogs and that does not mean they are attacking you. I too have been attacked by dogs (and I mean bitten and jumped on) and was able to fend them off with no weapons until the owner got control of them. The dogs who ran at Fish were not attack dogs or wild and Fish knew they had an owner. Fish had a walking stick and choose to use the gun instead. IMO that escalated the enocounter needlessly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rampage841512
The fact that the man fish shot was unarmned shouldn't even be an issue.
It is most definitely an issue! In most states to successfully claim self defense after shooting an unarmed person you must show that a disparity of force was present. Just because someone hits you does not mean you can shoot them at least in TN.

Might want to take a look here: http://www.useofforce.us/
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Old July 5, 2009, 01:10 PM   #19
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I never once considered this a "bad shoot"... If your sweetest auntie in her sunday best runs at me with the same aggressive demeanor of the teeth bared dogs... she is gettin 2 CoM!

If my beloved "Rosie" the 8 year old pit mix 30 pounds leaves my property in a threatening manner on a jogger, he is not gonna get so much as a glare from me if he shoots her dead! Actually if she does that one more time I am likely gonna punch her dang ticket my self!

The fact that he was approached by a guy in a threatening fashion is reason enough following the startle he just got from the dog incident.

I feel his only mistake was citing details in his statements. Time of day etc. is too hard to determine as is elapsed time following any high pressure situation. Had his statement left these answers vague, his statement and that of the distant "ear witnesses" would not have been compared with the same scrutiny and I feel he would have walked out of trial a free man!
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Old July 5, 2009, 02:25 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hogdogs
I never once considered this a "bad shoot"... If your sweetest auntie in her sunday best runs at me with the same aggressive demeanor of the teeth bared dogs... she is gettin 2 CoM!
Well, you may not consider this a "bad shoot" but if you did what you just said you would do Brent I think you might find the next few years rather "confining" if you know what I mean. Of course, you could hone your ultimate fighting skills with your new "roommate"

I think anyone, regardless of the circumstances, start behind the power curve when they shoot an unarmed person. Doesn't mean they won't walk but it is harder to prove SD when that happens. I think if they retry Fish he may not get off the second time as I think there are some questions about this one IMO.
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Old July 5, 2009, 11:32 PM   #21
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It's a mistake in legal reasoning to presume that an unarmed person attacking you doesn't represent a deadly threat, especially when the attacker knows you are armed.

Fending off dangerous animals with your bare hards or a stick when you have a more effective means is putting yourself in more danger than is necessary. I'm all about individual choice, so if that's how you choose to do it then by all means. Personally, I like my bits just where they are. I don't have time to worry about hurt feelings of someone who can't control their pets.
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Old July 6, 2009, 04:42 AM   #22
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I believe Mr. Fish should have been released in trial #1, and strongly suspect he'll be cleared if trial #2 happens.

First, he had every right to draw against the dogs and fire warning shots. Might not have been the best possible plan, but he was legally in the right.

We also know that the guy shot had a history of becoming mentally ungued if his dogs were threatened. That's a fact withheld from the jury that should have been available to Mr. Fish to back his story.

There's a fine line between a past criminal/mental issue being used in court or not. If the past issue is similar enough that it backs up somebody's story, it should be allowed in as the appellate court said. The trial judge blew it.

Finally, if a mentally deranged nutcase who is younger and stronger attacks you, shooting him is reasonable, esp. since it's likely his dogs will join any fight on his side.

Has everybody forgotten that the dogs are still a factor even after they pulled back after the warning shots? They represent an additional threat.

The dead guy should have backed down. Instead, he acted in a deranged fashion and pressed the attack. He's dead. I'm not crying.
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Old July 6, 2009, 05:24 AM   #23
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Quote:
We also know that the guy shot had a history of becoming mentally ungued if his dogs were threatened. That's a fact withheld from the jury that should have been available to Mr. Fish to back his story.
I think the appeals court made it plain that this information should have been allowed and the jury to decide on its value. In 20/20 hindsight Mr. Fish may have overreacted but at the time who can say. He will probably reach a deal with the DA for time served and no new trail but there were lots of mistakes made. Just think of how much this has already cost Mr. Fish even if a new jury turns him loose. That is why you never use your gun as a first option.
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Old July 6, 2009, 06:58 AM   #24
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Based on what I've read about this case, which is never the same as being on the jury, there was clearly enough "reasonable doubt" to acquit Fish.
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Old July 6, 2009, 10:36 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rampage841512
It's a mistake in legal reasoning to presume that an unarmed person attacking you doesn't represent a deadly threat,
I don't think most SD laws go along with your reasoning. If you shoot an unarmed person you are going to have to make the jury believe that disparity of force between you and the attacker forced your hand. As I said before, just because someone hits you does not give you the right to kill them. I would take a look at the law in your state and then look at the link I provided in my last post.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rampage841512
Fending off dangerous animals with your bare hards or a stick when you have a more effective means is putting yourself in more danger than is necessary.
I think a jury might find otherwise and apparently did the first time. Just because you have a "more effective" means does not mean you have to use it. If my walking stick would do the job (and I beleive it would have) then I think morally that should be the choice rather than going immediately to the gun. Most experts that teach SD urge you to disengage and descalate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rampage841512
I don't have time to worry about hurt feelings of someone who can't control their pets.
Maybe not but you might need to "take the time" to think about killing someone or you might have a lot of time to think about it later...in prison. As PT111 says very convincingly,
Quote:
Just think of how much this has already cost Mr. Fish even if a new jury turns him loose. That is why you never use your gun as a first option.
. And don't be so sure that Fish will be turned loose either. The statements I read from the jury after the trial talked a lot about Fish "overreacting" and they knew a good bit about Kuenzli too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim March
Has everybody forgotten that the dogs are still a factor even after they pulled back after the warning shots? They represent an additional threat.
The dogs never bit Fish before he fired or after. I dispute your assumption that they were a threat at all. Also, just because a person is kooky doesn't mean he gets the death sentence. Have you forgotten that Fish never got a hand or tooth laid on him and another man is dead? We only have Fish's word on what happened too. Again, don't be too sure he will get off and even if he does as PT111 said look what it cost him. I would not call this a good shoot and would urge others reading this to take heed. Maybe Fish was in danger and maybe not but going straight to the gun may have not been the best thing to do. I bet Fish believes that now.
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