L’ANSE — After listening to closing arguments all morning, Bernard Fish’s jury began deliberating at 12:15 Friday afternoon. The six men and six women returned with a guilty verdict on all counts shortly after 3:30 — two counts each of armed robbery, extortion and unlawful imprisonment, and one count of impersonating a peace officer to commit a crime.
Baraga County Prosecuting Attorney Joseph O’Leary said it was a strange case on many levels.
“Absent witnesses,” O’Leary said. “An absent victim. I’ve never, ever had that. Some of the most interesting testimony I’ve ever seen. I don’t know what other word to choose.”
One of the victims, Steven Heiser, refused to appear for the trial even though O’Leary sent him a subpoena. Several other subpoenaed prosecution witnesses also didn’t show up.
Fish claimed that the incident was staged, telling Michigan State Police troopers at one point that it was an attempt to get money from Heiser’s father. Fish also testified in his own defense on Thursday.
“Quite a story,” O’Leary said. “I believe that the truth did come out. I believe that justice was done, but there is no denying this was a rather strange case.”
Ultimately, the jurors felt the evidence supported O’Leary’s argument that Fish robbed what he believed to be a marijuana grow operation in Watton in August of last year.
“I’m pleased that they came to that verdict,” O’Leary said. “I’m saddened that such a thing had to happen in Baraga County in the first place, but I believe justice was served today.”
Fish could spend the rest of his life in prison. His sentencing date has not been scheduled yet.
UPDATE: 3:39 p.m.
L’ANSE — After nearly three hours of deliberation, a twelve-person jury has found Bernard Fish guilty on all charges: two counts each of armed robbery, extortion, and unlawful imprisonment, and one count of impersonating a peace officer to commit a crime.
A sentencing date has not been set yet.
ABC 10’s Mike Hoey was in court Friday and will have more on this story Friday evening.
L’ANSE — Closing arguments in the trial of Bernard Fish have been completed in Baraga County Circuit Court. The case has now gone to the jury for deliberation.
Fish is accused of robbing two men at gunpoint at their home last year while pretending to be a U.S. Marshal. He is facing a number of charges, including extortion and impersonating a peace officer. Fish has a long criminal record, including a federal bank robbery conviction for holding up a bank in Green Bay with a pellet gun in 1992.
ABC 10 will have more information later tonight.