Sunday, March 14, 2004

Shooting spree case prepped

Attorneys sift evidence, considering insanity plea

By Perry Schaible
Enquirer contributor

WEST CHESTER TWP. - Jay Fisher hasn't been the same since the deadly November 2003 shooting spree at a West Chester Township trucking company claimed the life of his son-in-law, Donald Haury.

Haury, 50, and Bob Lines, 65, were killed when the accused gunman, Tom West, drove past a security post at Watkins Motor Lines, walked into an office and started shooting last Nov. 6. Three others were injured. Another person was unharmed.

As the case winds its way through the Butler County justice system, Fisher and his family watch with intense scrutiny. They sat quietly in a Butler County courtroom last week for a pretrial hearing.

"There's not a day or an hour going by that we're not thinking of Don or Don and Vicki (his daughter) and all the wonderful things they did together," Fisher said.

West faces two counts of aggravated murder and four counts of attempted aggravated murder. His trial is scheduled to begin July 19 - his 51st birthday.

His attorneys spent last Wednesday afternoon in a police property room in West Chester Township searching bags and boxes of evidence.

The defense has until April 30 to decide whether West will change his plea from not guilty to not guilty by reason of insanity.

"That's why I'm looking at the evidence, I'm trying to determine that," said defense attorney Noah Powers.

He said an original insanity plea was withdrawn because West would not cooperate.

"We just have a lot of ground to cover before we enter that plea," Powers said, noting anything West says to a psychologist can be used by the prosecution.

"I would almost anticipate that's the only possible argument that he has," Fisher said, adding: "other than being honest and confessing that he really did it."

West could waive his right to a jury trial. If he did, a three-judge panel would hear the case.

Assistant Butler County Prosecutor Craig Hedric will continue to organize the evidence for trial and within the next three weeks plans to begin re-interviewing witnesses.

Fisher said so far the case is proceeding as the family expected. They plan to attend every day of the trial to represent Haury.

"The whole family mourns the loss of Don every day ... It's just a terrible loss for our family," Fisher said.


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