Lawyer accused of murder to be released from jail

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PHOENIX (AP) -- A judge who granted a new trial to a California divorce lawyer accused of murder in Arizona has ordered the attorney's release from jail as prosecutors plan to appeal a ruling that threw out a jury's guilty verdict against him.

The judge also granted a request Friday from prosecutors to dismiss the case against 54-year-old Robert Fischer of Irvine, but left open the possibility that a murder charge could be filed against him in the future. Prosecutors, who are continuing to press the case against Fischer, sought the dismissal in a procedural move that clears the way for their appeal of the judge's Feb. 28 decision.

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, southeast of Phoenix. 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.

Dwane Cates, an attorney for Fischer, said he expects his client will be released from jail by early Saturday.

"I was obviously very excited," Cates said of the judge's ruling on the jury's verdict. "I believe the judge was correct."

Prosecutors sought the dismissal 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 more than a year to be resolved, asked the judge to dismiss the case.

Still, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, which prosecuted Fischer, stresses that the case isn't over. "We intend to continue to pursue this case," officer spokesman Jerry Cobb said.

Authorities contended Radder's death was staged as a suicide.

According to court records, the 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. But Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Karen Mullins had ruled there was no evidence Fischer pulled the trigger.

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."

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