Teen accused of killing grandparents competent to stand trial

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Eighteen-year-old Marcus Fisher, accused of fatally stabbing his grandparents at their Montville home on Jan. 28, had no criminal history or diagnosed mental illness prior to being charged with crimes that could land him in prison for life.

He reported smoking marijuana daily and consuming alcohol in the weeks prior to the crime and said he had experimented a couple of times with "huffing" compressed air, but didn't use heroin, cocaine or other illicit substances, according to a competency report of the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Office of Forensic Evaluations. He said he had suffered a concussion while playing football years earlier.

Fisher was displaying signs of psychosis following his arrest, however, and Department of Correction medical staff noted in a report that it could be an actual mental illness or, less likely, a result of his Cannabis use. They diagnosed him with "psychosis, alcohol abuse and Cannabis abuse" and prescribed medication.

An insanity defense that would land the teen in a mental hospital rather than prison if convicted seems unlikely, since a forensic team that evaluated him at the Manson Youth Institution found that he is competent to stand trial. According to their report, Fisher spoke of "hearing voices" in the past but did not appear to be experiencing signs of psychosis, such as visual or auditory hallucinations, during their interview.

In Connecticut, a person is competent to stand trial if he can understand the proceedings against him or her and assist in his or her own defense. Fisher was able to define the roles of court personnel and the legal process. Of his attorneys, Kevin Barrs and M. Fred DeCaprio, he said, "They are on my side. I hope they will be doing what they can to help me out."

During Fisher's appearance Thursday in New London Superior Court, Barrs stipulated to the competency finding and entered a not guilty plea on Fisher's behalf to the charges: two counts of murder, second-degree arson and murder with special circumstances. Barrs also said Fisher is waiving his right to a probable cause hearing, which defendants in murder cases are entitled to within 60 days of arrest.

Prosecutors Lawrence J. Tytla and Theresa Anne Ferryman also stipulated to the report. In the month to come, the state and defense will continue to gather evidence and engage in pretrial negotiations before Judge Hillary B. Strackbein. If Fisher doesn't eventually accept a plea offer, the case will go to trial.

According to state and town police, Fisher called 911 at 4:46 a.m. to report two dead bodies at 26 Morgan St. in the Uncasville section of Montville. He told the dispatcher that his grandparents, John and Gertrude Piscezek, had been stabbed and that he had been there for "the event."

Police entered the home and found both victims on the kitchen floor, dead of multiple stab wounds, according to police.

Fisher confessed he had gotten into an argument with his grandfather sometime after dinner but before bed the previous night. He said he grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed his grandfather in the chest. He said his grandmother entered the room, and he stabbed her. He said he cleaned the knife, then went outside and lit a fire in an attempt to burn down the house.

Fisher, born in New London and raised in Montville until the age of 12, had been living in Minnesota prior to staying with his grandparents for several months, according to the competency report.

His mother and several other family members attended the court hearing Thursday.

His next court date is April 28.

k.florin@theday.com

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