The article on page 9A of the Roundup June 17 is outrageous. It regards a new trial for Harold Fish who was convicted of killing a Payson resident, Grant Kuenzli. Anyone who would give even one penny to support a new trial needs to have their head examined. Fish was legally convicted of the murder and deserved the 10-year sentence.
To refresh this killing for those who are unaware of it, Mr. Fish had hiked the 10-mile Pine Trail that begins just south of Pine and climbs the "Rim" or begins atop the Rim and goes to the south of Pine.
I have (hiked) it both ways. There is considerable climbing each way. Mr. Fish started south of Pine. He topped out north of the 260 turnoff to Camp Verde. He was exhausted and for some reason he had a gun. It's a good city block or two to Highway 87. As he was hiking, two small/medium size dogs ran toward him, not to eat him alive but to be petted. They had been playing under the direction of Mr. Kuenzli. How do I know "to be petted"? I knew Mr. Kuenzli and know and knew the dogs. Members of the 27-year-old Payson Packers hiking club had seen Mr. Kuenzli in the forest in the past, and he and his pets were very nice.
Unfortunately, Mr. Fish pulled out his gun and fired it into the ground. Mr. Kuenzli did exactly what I would have done, charge Mr. Fish, not to hurt him but to protect our pets. Unfortunately it cost him his life.
Witnesses from the Phoenix valley had said that Mr. Fish frequently flaunted his gun in his own neighborhood which certainly implies that this is a man who never should have been given a gun.
Now I have a couple of questions. Questions apparently not brought up at the trial.
How was Mr. Fish going to get back to the starting point of his hike, more than 10 miles away south of Pine?
Did he have a cell phone to tell his friends or family that he had finished the hike and was ready to be picked up? If he called, did he tell them about the shooting death?
We know he did not have a car on the Rim side of the hike. Was there a third person with a car and did Fish tell that person to get out of sight?
He admits he stopped a car on Highway 87 and told the driver about the incident. But this was a couple hours after the shooting. We know this because there were a couple of young ladies camping near the shooting and had heard the shots long before Mr. Fish went to the highway to report it.
Also, I object to the statements made in both the Roundup and The Arizona Republic that Mr. Kuenzli had "unleashed" dogs indicating that this is a violation. There is no leash law in the national forest, except in campgrounds and visitor centers. After all, you do not have to have a leash on bears, mountain lions, deer, elk or rattlesnakes. Why would the Forest Service require it for dogs?
I have been hiking and leading hikes in the Payson area for 17 years and 9 months. This shooting really upset me. The sad thing is, I knew the man who died.