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State v. Fisher

Supreme Court of Idaho

July 17, 2017

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
SHAWN NATHAN FISHER. Defendant-Appellant.

         2017 Opinion No. 90

         Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District of the State of Idaho, in and for Ada County. Hon. Jason D. Scott, District Judge.

         The judgment of the district court is affirmed.

          Jason C. Pintler, Deputy State Appellate Public Defender, Boise, argued for appellant.

          Jessica M. Lorello, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, argued for respondent.

          EISMANN, Justice.

         This is an appeal out of Ada County challenging the statutory elimination of the insanity defense and the imposition of a determinate life sentence for the crime of murder in the second degree that was committed when the defendant was experiencing paranoia resulting from schizophrenia and was under the influence of bath salts. We affirm the judgment of the district court.

         I.

         Factual Background.

         On February 18, 2013, while under the influence of a controlled substance, suffering from schizophrenia, and experiencing paranoia and a delusion that he and his family were in danger, Shawn Nathan Fisher ("Defendant") killed one person and attempted to kill another.

         At 8:25 p.m., a 911 operator received a call about a possible murder. The caller reported that he was driving home from work on a four lane road, when he came up behind a car stopped in his lane of travel at an intersection. He stopped, and, after waiting for the traffic to clear, he pulled around the car. When he did so, he noticed that the driver was slumped over in the driver's seat. Thinking that the driver may have had a heart attack, he turned around and drove back to the car to check on its driver. When he walked up to the car, the driver's window had been rolled down, and he saw that there was blood pouring from the driver's head. The car was still running, so he turned it off. He also checked the driver's neck for a pulse, and could not feel one. The manual transmission was in neutral. It was later determined that the driver had been shot in the face. The bullet hit the left side of his nose and traveled to the rear of his head, slightly to the right, passing through the brain. The victim was 28 years of age, and was driving home from work. The outside temperature was thirty degrees. Because the driver's window was rolled down and there was a small pool of blood on the roadway beneath the driver's door and blood running down the side of the vehicle, Defendant may have stopped beside the victim's car at the traffic light and motioned to him to roll down his window before shooting him.

         At 8:26 p.m., a 911 operator received a call that the operator interpreted as being about leaving the scene of an accident. The caller had left his apartment complex shortly after 8:00 p.m., to go to the store where he worked to visit his friends and make a purchase. Then he intended to drive to the university he attended to drop off a heat gun for use the next morning on an art project. After getting into his car and starting to drive away, he realized that he had forgotten the heat gun. He stopped his car, backed up, and parked parallel to the parking stalls. It took him about five minutes to go back into his apartment, grab the heat gun, and return to his car. Upon returning, he saw another car stopped about fifty feet away facing his car. The other car's headlights were on, and it was running. The victim thought at first that he may be blocking a parking stall, but, after waiting a few minutes, he drove past the other car, out of the apartment complex, and onto a two-lane street. The other car left the apartment complex using another driveway. While driving down the street, the victim noticed the other car coming up behind him very quickly. As the victim approached the intersection with a five-lane street (two lanes in each direction and a center turn lane), the other car slammed into the rear of the caller's car. He turned south into the outer lane of a five-lane street, and the other car pulled alongside in the inner lane. He looked towards the other car, saw the front passenger window explode outward, and heard a bullet hit his car near his ear. The other car then sped away southbound. The caller wanted to find a safe place before calling the police, so he drove to the store where his friends were.

         There is no indication that Defendant previously had any contact with either victim. He apparently selected them at random. After his arrest, it was determined that Defendant was also under the influence of bath salts.

         Defendant was ultimately charged with murder in the first degree and several other crimes, but on October 3, 2013, the district court found him unable to assist in his own defense due to his mental illness. The court committed Defendant to the custody of the Department of Correction for care and treatment. On February 17, 2015, the ...


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