Murder charge in Arizona against divorce lawyer dismissed

Nov 26, 2021, 4:00 PM
(Pexels Photo)...
(Pexels Photo)
(Pexels Photo)

PHOENIX (AP) — A murder charge has been dismissed for a California divorce lawyer in the suburban Phoenix shooting death of his stepdaughter’s husband nearly 11 years ago.

Prosecutors cited the “interest of justice” as their reason for seeking the dismissal of the murder charge against Robert Fischer, whose jury conviction was overturned by a judge in the December 2010 death of 49-year-old Norman “Lee” Radder.

No specifics were offered in court records on what prompted the dismissal request, which was approved on Oct. 21. It’s unclear whether prosecutors will seek a murder charge against Fischer again.

Fischer was at Radder’s home in Queen Creek, about 35 miles east of downtown Phoenix, when Radder died from a single shot from Fischer’s handgun into Radder’s right eye after a night of drinking.

Fischer’s attorneys suggested Radder was suicidal, saying he was experiencing financial and marital difficulties.

Authorities contend Radder’s death was staged as a suicide and that Fischer, who worked previously as a former police officer, had used his law enforcement training and knowledge as an attorney to try to cover up the crime.

Fischer was convicted of murder in 2013 in Radder’s death.

Two months later, the judge overturned the conviction and ordered a new trial. The judge concluded the verdict was “contrary to the weight of the evidence,” that there was no fingerprint or DNA evidence showing Fischer fired the gun that killed Lee and that a detective’s theory that Fischer had manipulated Radder’s body and staged the scene lacked credibility.

While Fischer said he went to bed in another room and later discovered Radder on the floor after hearing a popping sound, the judge said experts believe Fischer was present when the gun was fired based on blood on his pajamas. Still, the judge noted that being present and untruthful wasn’t enough to support a conviction.

The Arizona Court of Appeals later reinstated the conviction. It found the trial judge abused her discretion in ordering a new trial and disregarded the incriminating nature of Fischer’s claim that he was in another room when the shooting occurred.

But the Arizona Supreme Court later threw out the lower appellate court decision and ordered a new trial, concluding there was substantial evidence to support the trial judge’s decision to overturn the verdict. The high court also said the Court of Appeals reweighed the case’s evidence, when it should have simply determined if the evidence supported the lower court’s ruling. In 2018, Fischer was indicted again on a murder charge in Radder’s death, leading to the case that was recently dismissed.

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted Fischer, didn’t immediately respond Friday to a request for comment.

Fischer didn’t return voice messages left at his law office in Orange County, California. His attorney, Michael Jones, also didn’t return a phone call seeking comment on the dismissal.

The surprising dismissal — which doesn’t prohibit prosecutors from bringing a murder charge against Fischer in the future — came six weeks after a different judge had dealt a loss to Fischer. The judge rejected Fischer’s arguments that the attempt to retry him should be dismissed because it would violate his protections against double jeopardy.

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Murder charge in Arizona against divorce lawyer dismissed