Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Man to Be Set Free After Murder Conviction Overturned

LOS ANGELES -- A man who has spent the past 26 years behind bars for murder is about to walk out of prison a free man.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips ordered the release of 44-year-old Bruce Lisker from Mule Creek State Prison.

It wasn't immediately clear, however, if Lisker was able to make bail or if prosecutors planned to refile the charge.

Lisker was serving a life sentence for the March 1983 beating and stabbing death of his mother, Dorka.

He was 17 at the killing and told police he found his 66-year-old mother dead on the floor of their Sherman Oaks home.

Lisker's conviction was overturned last week when Phillips concluded that the San Fernando Valley man's trial was tainted with "false evidence" and he did not receive adequate representation from his defense attorney.

Lisker's freedom will be influenced by what government attorneys do next.

They could appeal Phillips' ruling overturning Lisker's conviction, retry him for or drop the case altogether.

A lawyer for the state attorney general's office said Monday that no decision has been made about an appeal.

But he said the L.A. County district attorney's office is prepared to retry Lisker on a murder charge.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Ralph Zarefsky wrote in March that a jury today would find "there is essentially no evidence of (Lisker's) guilt."

"We're thrilled, absolutely ecstatic," Lisker's attorney Vicki Podberesky said about her client's potential release.

"After all these years, justice is going to be done."

Lisker has testified that he went to his parents' house to borrow a tool and found his mother lying on the floor.

He was the first to report her death to authorities.

Prosecutors pointed to blood on Lisker's clothes and said a bloody footprint at the scene matched his.

Lisker had a history of drug abuse and fighting with his mother.

He later acknowledged committing the crime but has said he only confessed to get a plea deal.

The Los Angeles Times determined a footprint at the crime scene did not match Lisker's shoes and contended the defendant could have bloodied his clothes when he went to his mother's aid.

Zarefsky said investigators did not follow up on another likely suspect who had lied about his alibi, claimed to have been in a knife fight on the day of the crime and said he talked to the victim at her house the day before the murder.


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