Has the legal system in Arizona gone to pieces? Why in heaven’s name would our courts, by way of Coconino Court Judge Mark Moran, release a man from prison? Was he harassed by some religious group?
I am speaking about the murder of a Payson resident, Grant Kuenzli, who frequently took his dog and a couple of humane society dogs into the forest to play. The victim had been seen in the forest in the past by members of the Payson Packers hiking group. Grant and the dogs were very friendly. He had a few tools with him to make obstacle courses for the dogs to play around. That is why a screwdriver was in his rear pocket the day he was murdered.
Three years ago Grant was playing with the dogs near the Rim entrance/exit for the difficult Pine trail hike when a hiker named Harold Fish came off the trail. There is no leash law in the open forest. The three dogs ran toward the hiker to be petted. Unfortunately the hiker was a “gun nut” and pulled out a gun and foolishly fired into the rock laden trail. Grant was shocked at this and ran toward the hiker to protect the dogs. The hiker, Harold Fish, pointed his gun at him and killed him with three shots to the chest. Then, believe it or not, he sat with the three dogs and the dead man for up to two hours and then went to the highway to stop a car.
I have led hikes on this trail numerous times as a Payson Packer hike leader. When you do this, if you are smart, you take one or two vehicles up (or down) to the finish point to take drivers back to the start to get the cars and return the hikers to the starting point.
Just last month I was at a large yard sale at the home of one of the people who adopted one of the three dogs Grant had the day he died. The yard sale was spread over a large lawn and the dog was running around looking for a pet by shoppers, including myself.
There are some important points that were not pushed at the trial to convict Harold Fish.
Did Fish have a cell phone? Did he make a call down to Pine to tell someone who was waiting to pick him up at the end of the hike? Did he tell the people in Pine what happened?
Was there someone with a car waiting for him on the Rim to finish the hike and take him back to Pine? Was that person a witness, and did he or she see the victim before leaving?
What about the two young ladies that were camping nearby and heard the shots that killed Grant? They came forward to the law and told them about the shots. They were upset that Harold Fish sat with the victim and the dogs for upward to two hours.
Why is there so much interest in Grant’s past life? What happened that day happened within 15 or 20 minutes? You had a nut with a gun, looking to maybe injure the dogs. Grant acted just as I or anyone else would have reacted to protect the dogs.
Grant loved the outdoors, the wildlife and the forest. His past had nothing to do with what he did to save the dogs.
Why weren’t the Payson Packer hikers invited to the trial? They found Grant and the pets all friendly during their hikes. Why were they just spoken to on the telephone?
There are so many people in Payson who are upset about this injustice. We only hope that the state will push for a larger conviction and put Harold Fish back in jail where he belongs.