TS - >Route 299 murder suspect set for trial in August; case likely to lean heavily on evidence gathered from getaway car

Route 299 murder suspect set for trial in August; case likely to lean heavily on evidence gathered from getaway car
The trial of a man accused of killing a marijuana robbery accomplice during a high speed chase on State Route 299 last year is likely to hinge on detailed forensic evidence gathered from the getaway car.

Brian Cole Fiore of Antioch faces a variety of charges, including the murder of his alleged accomplice David Fields, armed robbery, felony evading a peace officer, transporting marijuana, illegally possessing an assault weapon, resisting arrest and the attempted murder of five peace officers. Fiore has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges and is set to go to trial on Aug. 23.

Prosecutors allege that Fiore shot Fields in the head just before the Jeep Cherokee that Fiore was driving plummeted off a cliff on Route 299 on May 11, 2009.

The pair were allegedly running from officers after robbing three men of 14 pounds of marijuana in McKinleyville at gunpoint. Officers responding to the scene chased the Jeep for 20 miles up Route 299, while the suspects reportedly shot at pursuing law enforcement vehicles. The Jeep went over a spike strip outside of Willow Creek and plunged 130 feet off the road into a ravine.

Fiore shortly came up the hill with a gunshot wound to his head, telling officers that he'd tried to kill himself, according to court documents. Fields was found dead feet away from the vehicle, with a gunshot wound to his head.

In recent court documents, public defender Jonathan McCrone, representing Fiore, said that forensic scientist John Jacobsen had examined the Jeep and found what he believed to be brain matter in the back seat of the car. McCrone wrote that the presence of the material suggests that his client couldn't have shot Fields. Fields was shot in the left temple, and the bullet exited the right temple, McCrone wrote. Fiore would “have to be a contortionist to achieve this” McCrone wrote of the brain matter in the back seat.

”The trajectory of the bullet which killed David Fields is critical to the determination of whether this is a murder or a suicide,” McCrone wrote.

But Deputy District Attorney Allan Dollison said that the timing of each piece of the incident is crucial to understanding what happened that day. Just a minute before the Jeep ran off the road, Dollison said, there were shots fired from an AK-47 assault rifle from the right side of the car, which suggests Fields was alive at that moment. There were then shots fired from the left side of the car, and the car continued to drive.

Dollison said the fatal shot to Fields was likely fired just before the car plunged over the side, since Field was ejected from the car and there's no evidence to suggest he was shot after the car came to rest. He would not comment specifically on the brain matter issue raised by McCrone.

”The forensics and the autopsy indicate to me that Brian Fiore killed David Fields,” Dollison said.

John Driscoll can be reached at 441-0504 or jdriscoll@times-standard.com.
John Driscoll/The Times-Standard
Posted: 07/17/2010 01:27:23 AM PDT