Friday, May 14, 2010

Meet the Exonerated: Mississippi's Death Row, Part Three

Larry Fisher was charged with the rape and murder of an 18-year-old high school student in Meridian Mississippi in 1983.

On February 11, 1983, Patsy Jo Rivers was raped in Lauderdale County, Mississippi. Meridian Police set up a decoy operation in which they caught and arrested Fisher. The next day, Ms. Rivers identified Fisher in a line-up. Fisher was formally indicted for the rape, in addition to two separate capital murder charges for the deaths of Melinda Gail Weathers and Carol Formby.

A series of similar crimes had occurred in the same area and the pre-trial media coverage of the case was extensive. Fisher asked for a change of venue but was denied and in April, 1984, Fisher was tried, convicted, and sentenced to die for the capital murder of Ms. Weathers.

Fisher appealed and on October 16, 1985, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed his conviction and and remanded the case for a new trial with directions for a change of venue because of the saturation media coverage. In December, 1985, Fisher's trial began and on December 13, 1985, the jury acquitted Fisher of the charge of murder.

On January 30, 1986, the Rivers rape trial commenced. Fisher, as an indigent, was represented by appointed counsel, just as he had been on each of the two earlier occasions. The state used three witnesses that had testified in both previous murder trials. The testimony of these witnesses in the prior murder trials was minimal and limited to Fisher's modus operandi in such murder. Though Rivers was one of these three common witnesses, her testimony in the two earlier trials never mentioned the rape. However, as the rape victim, Rivers was the state's main witness in the present case.

Fisher requested a full free transcript of the second trial, which the State refused. He had been given a transcript of the first capital murder trial; and the State also gave him all discovery materials within its possession, including written statements by all of the state's witnesses. Moreover, his counsel obtained a full transcript of the rape trial's preliminary hearing in which Rivers had testified. The state judge permitted him to use this transcript during the rape trial for impeachment purposes. At the close of the trial, the jury convicted Fisher of rape and sentenced him to life imprisonment. Fisher appealed and the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed his conviction on September 14, 1988.

Fisher remains incarcerated because of rape conviction.

6 comments:

Anonymous,  16:12  

That you list Larry Fisher as "Exonerated" is a travesty to those who truly are unfairly convicted and denied justice. Larry Fisher is a man who was spared the gas chamber on a technicality. He is a convicted rapist who was paroled after serving 5 years of a 15 year sentence for rape and was then arrested for rape and murder not even a full year after he was paroled. He is a recidivist and he is dangerous. He raped Pat Rivers and killed Melinda Weathers and likely killed Carol Formby. You want to call this man exonerated but you fail to explain that he was caught in a decoy operation set up to catch an individual who was blue-lighting women on Hwy 80 and then raping them once they were persuaded to leave their vehicles. This was the modus operandi in the Rivers' rape. Melinda Weathers' car was found abandoned in the same area that these blue-lightings took place and her body was found nearby -- raped and strangled. Carol Formby's car was similarly abandoned and her body found only a few miles from Melinda's. Your "Exonerated Man" was arrested because he pulled the decoy car over with his blinking light on Hwy 80. If he is not a Guilty Man, why the hell was he pulling cars over on Hwy 80 in the middle of the night?! Once Fisher was arrested, the blue-lightings stopped. There were no more missing women; there were no more murdered women. Larry Fisher is a RECIDIVIST Sex Offender. It is this kind of ignorant claim of exoneration and wrongful conviction that prevents people from listening when their is a compelling reason to help someone who has truly been wrongfully convicted. You are your causes own worst enemy.

Kevin,  00:16  

Melinda was my friend and I was one of the last people to see her alive. I will limit my comments because this article is idiotic! MELINDA'S JEWELRY WAS FOUND IN HIS CAR. It got tossed out on a technicality because of supposed pre-trial publicity. This "exonerated" man raped someone else in Georgia and served time for it, in addition to Pat Rivers. He would have killed her too if she hadn't escaped. How are you going to feel when this rapist and murder comes and kills your child, your sister, or your friend? Do something different with your life and stop "exonerating" murderers and rapists.

Brenda Arnsdorff 13:03  

EXONERATED? If our court system was worth a damn, this man would have been put to death as he was sentenced. He is a serial killer and a serial rapist. He got away with murder,but he WASN'T innocent.

Anonymous,  13:35  

GOOD!!
I PRAY HE NEVER GETS OUT!

Anonymous,  14:15  

Melinda Weathers had DNA all over her, but this was before 1987 when DNA was first used to solve crimes. Even though I know they cannot try him again since he was acquitted, I hope that they will test that DNA if it has not already been done. We know he did it, and it would shut up these who claim he was exonerated.

Anonymous,  18:53  

Whoever sees fit to release this animal needs to be REQUIRED to take him into their home with their wife, daughters, granddaughters, etc. Who will want him released at that cost?

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