Veteran legal defense law firm appointed to represent Norristown gentleman going through retrial in 1980 homicide

NORRISTOWN — A veteran felony protection lawyer was appointed by a choose to characterize Robert Fisher, the Norristown man experiencing a retrial on prices he fatally shot his ex-girlfriend in 1980, in the occasion Fisher does not attain his possess lawyer.

Thomas C. Egan III, perfectly-regarded in Montgomery County lawful circles, was appointed by Judge Todd Eisenberg to symbolize Fisher, in accordance to a court buy.

Earlier this week, Fisher, who was set to symbolize himself at his retrial, sought a hold off as jury collection was about to commence, indicating he experienced a alter of heart and preferred a law firm to signify him.

Fisher, 75, who just 3 weeks ago advised the judge he wished to characterize himself soon after obtaining disagreements with two earlier court docket-appointed legal professionals, claimed on Tuesday that he had been in call with “several people today in the lawful community” who may possibly be intrigued in representing him if they are compensated, adding he required a several weeks to finalize that illustration.

Listening to no objection from prosecutors, Eisenberg granted the trial postponement but added he was going to appoint a attorney to depict Fisher in the interim in case Fisher is unable to use his possess attorney. Eisenberg is envisioned to maintain a listening to later this month to set a new day for Fisher’s retrial.

Past September, Eisenberg declared a mistrial after a jury indicated it was “hopelessly deadlocked” and could not reach a verdict at Fisher’s retrial in connection with the alleged July 10, 1980, lethal taking pictures of 26-12 months-outdated Collegeville native Linda Rowden, who was Fisher’s ex-girlfriend at the time, as she drove her motor vehicle alongside DeKalb Avenue in close proximity to Basin Road.

It was the third evidentiary trial for Fisher following his former to start with-degree murder convictions, at trials in September 1988 and August 1991, ended up overturned by appellate courts.

Fisher also is the only person in Pennsylvania sentenced to demise 3 times and just about every of all those sentences also was overturned by larger courts.

1st Assistant District Legal professional Edward F. McCann Jr. and co-prosecutor Tanner Beck are handling the case.

Fisher, previously of the 600 block of DeKalb Street, is charged with initial- and third-diploma murder in relationship with Rowden’s loss of life.

During the retrial, prosecutors are not searching for a demise sentence, but lifetime imprisonment if Fisher is convicted of initially-diploma murder, which is an intentional killing.

McCann and Beck have argued Fisher acted with intent when he fatally shot Rowden with a handgun that as soon as belonged to Rowden’s father.

Accused killer Robert Fisher is escorted by sheriff’s deputies from a Montgomery County courtroom just after in search of a hold off in his retrial for 1980 slaying of Collegeville girl. (Photograph by Carl Hessler Jr.)

Prosecutors argued an indignant Fisher killed Rowden to reduce her from offering information to law enforcement that could url Fisher to the 1980 murder of Nigel Anderson, a witness who experienced been scheduled to testify in a federal heroin case. Moreover, two days right before she was murdered, Rowden claimed to Norristown law enforcement that Fisher assaulted her.

Fisher promptly fled from Norristown to New York Town immediately after the killing, altered his title and took on a new identity, in accordance to testimony. Fisher wasn’t apprehended until finally 1987 in New York.

Fisher was to start with convicted of Rowden’s murder in September 1988 and was sentenced to demise. To earn that conviction, prosecutors relied on Fisher’s former conviction in federal court docket of violating Nigel Anderson’s civil legal rights.

In 1990, the state Supreme Court docket overturned the county murder conviction after a federal choose overturned Fisher’s federal civil rights conviction.

Fisher was then retried for Rowden’s murder in August 1991, convicted and sentenced to death a 2nd time.

Nonetheless, in June 1996, the condition Supreme Courtroom, though upholding the murder conviction, dominated Fisher ought to obtain a new penalty hearing for the reason that jurors at his 1991 demo had been improperly allowed to listen to target effects testimony from Rowden’s mother.

Following a new penalty listening to in June 1997, Fisher was sentenced to death a third time.

But in late 2019, U.S. District Court docket Judge Gene E.K. Pratter overturned Fisher’s conviction, ruling a county judge’s instruction on “reasonable doubt” and an case in point of the concept the decide recited all through the 1991 demo was “constitutionally deficient” and “fatally flawed” and that Fisher’s lawyer need to have objected to the instruction. Pratter concluded Fisher’s constitutional rights have been violated by the instruction.

The U.S. Court docket of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit upheld Pratter’s decision on Jan. 17, 2020, sending Fisher’s situation back to county courtroom for the retrial.

Fisher’s 1997 loss of life sentence also was overturned with Pratter ruling the aggravating factor relied on by prosecutors at the time was improperly used.