-- An Arizona man who spent nearly three years in prison for
justifiably shooting a man in self-defense is now free and clear of all
guilt in his case. This week the Arizona Supreme Court let stand the
state appellate court’s decision to overturn Harold Fish’s
second-degree murder conviction. The National Rifle Association
provided assistance in this case. NRA’s Office of General Counsel
advised Fish’s defense counsel, and the NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund
provided financial aid for Fish’s defense.
Chris W. Cox, executive director of NRA’s Institute for Legislative
Action said, “We are pleased that justice has finally prevailed for Mr.
Fish in this case that was clearly justifiable self-defense. We wish
the best for Mr. Fish and his family in the future.”
In 2006, Harold Fish was convicted of second-degree murder in the
shooting death of Grant Kuenzli. Fish encountered Kuenzli and his
vicious dogs while hiking on a trailside in Coconino County in May of
2004. After Fish fired warning shots at the aggressive dogs, Kuenzli
tried to attack him, and Fish was forced to shoot him in self-defense.
At the time of the shooting, current self-defense laws in Arizona --
which put the burden of proof on the prosecutor instead of the
defendant -- did not exist. During Fish’s trial, the jury was not
allowed to hear evidence that Kuenzli had acted violently in similar
situations in the past. In June, an Arizona appellate court overturned
Fish’s conviction, acknowledging the jury should have heard this
evidence and also saying the jury was not instructed properly on the
meaning of “unlawful physical force.” Attorney General Terry Goddard
had asked the Arizona Supreme Court to review the appellate court’s
decision, and this week they declined.
Fish’s case spawned two laws in Arizona strengthening the rights of
gun owners to use a firearm to defend themselves and their loved ones.
SB 1145, passed in 2006, put the burden of proof back on the state,
saying that those who use firearms in self-defense are to be considered
innocent until proven guilty. This year, Governor Jan Brewer signed SB
1449 into law, making retroactive SB 1145, which effectively allowed
Fish and others in similar positions the right to a new trial, as well
as to be considered innocent in the justifiable use of force unless the
state proves otherwise.