Fish Trial Takes Strange Twist

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The trial of Harold Fish took a bizarre twist Thursday morning when one of the 11-member jury visiting the scene of the alleged crime found a spent .10 mm cartridge on the ground not far from where Grant Kuenzli's body was found.

It was the same caliber of ammunition Fish, 59, used when he shot Kuenzli during a deadly confrontation May 11, 2004.

For the jury's visit to the crime scene, a trailhead just north of the intersection of Highways 87 and 260 West, Coconino County Sheriff deputies had carefully placed yellow markers where -- during their initial investigation -- they found five spent cartridges from Fish's pistol.

Fish told investigators after the shooting, he fired two warning shots at Kuenzli's three dogs before shooting Kuenzli three times at close range.

Two detectives at the scene refused to say whether the shell the juror found was from Fish's firearm, but the pair spent more than 30 minutes carefully marking and measuring the exact spot. The location was several yards north of where investigators initially found the other spent cartridges.

Fish's attorney, Mel McDonald, said he doubts the newly found spent cartridge is from his client's pistol but he realizes detectives must investigate the possibility.

"We'll have to go through the hoops," McDonald said.

Deputy Coconino County Attorney Michael Lessler, who was at the trailhead with McDonald, Fish and Judge Mark Moran during the jury's visit, said he had no comment on the found shell.

Up until the shell was found, the jury strolled around the shooting scene taking notice of where Kuenzli had parked his car, where Kuenzli's body was found and the location to the spent pistol shells.

However, when the juror turned the found shell over to the bailiff, the 11 members were led away from the scene to the parked van they had earlier arrived in from Flagstaff.

One by one, three of the jurors were called out to show exactly where the spent shell had been found.

Detectives McDonald and Lessler also questioned the jurors.

"The entire thing set us back about one and a half hours," McDonald said.

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For a jury's visit to a trailhead crime scene north of Pine, markers were placed to show where shell casings from Harold Fish's .10mm handgun were found.

Even after the attorneys and jurors departed, the detectives remained to continue their investigation.

Following the shooting, Fish was charged with the second-degree murder of Kuenzli.

After almost two years of legal maneuvering, the case went to trial April 20 in Coconino County Superior Court.

McDonald said it was his idea to take the jury to the trailhead so the members could see the downward slope of the trail that would prove Fish's claim that Kuenzli was charging him at a full run when he fired the fatal shots.

Fish has pleaded innocent, claiming he acted in self-defense when he shot Kuenzli. In opening arguments, Lessler said Fish needlessly killed an unarmed man and should be convicted of the charges against him.

The shooting occurred about 6:30 p.m. after Fish was wrapping up a hike on the Pine Trail.

Kuenzli had taken three dogs on a walk, when they ran toward Fish as he exited the trail.

Fish said he yelled for the dogs to stop then fired the warning shots.

The dogs dispersed, but Fish claims Kuenzli continued to charge him, yelling threats. Fish said he feared for his life when he fired the fatal shots.

The trial in Flagstaff is expected to last a month.

See related story:

As trial begins Fish maintains self-defense (April 21)

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