Judge to mull prescription pill testimony
WHEELING – First Judicial Circuit Judge James Mazzone will consider a West Virginia State Police trooper’s testimony about Melody Fisher’s prescription drug use before deciding if that information will be shared with a jury during a potential trial.
Fisher, 41, of Beech Bottom is accused of conspiring with Kevin Walnoha to rob the Elm Grove Pharmacy at gunpoint on May 25. Prosecutors say Fisher was sitting in the getaway car in the parking lot when a pharmacy employee shot and killed Walnoha inside the building.
State Police Cpl. James Dean interviewed Fisher the day after the crime at her home.
In the 90-minute interview, portions of which were played in court Friday, Fisher told Dean that doctors had prescribed her the painkillers Opana and Oxycodone, as well as Klonopin, an anti-anxiety drug, and Soma, a muscle relaxer.
Fisher represented that she was taking two 20-milligram Opana daily, and a doctor prescribed her 12 30-milligram Oxycodone daily. She and Dean expressed that the latter dosage seemed excessive, and it is unclear if Fisher was actually taking that much Oxycodone every day.
She also said she was taking methadone for at least a year following back surgery.
Dean testified that at the time of the interview, he believed Fisher was taking all of the drugs she said she was prescribed. He noted, however, that he did not discuss with her the last time Fisher had taken any of those prescriptions.
Assistant Prosecutor Shawn Turak said the state intends to present Fisher’s drug use to the jury as a motive for the alleged crime, while defense attorney Edward Gillison said that would be unfairly prejudicial to his client. Parties will file supplemental written motions that Mazzone will review before issuing a ruling.
Mazzone formally dismissed the felony murder charge that was brought against Fisher.
The dismissal has been anticipated since last year, when the West Virginia Supreme Court ruled that a surviving co-conspirator cannot be charged with an accomplice’s murder when a crime victim kills in self-defense.
The judge also granted the state’s request to have a potential jury, prior to opening statements, travel to the pharmacy where Walnoha was fatally shot. Gillison objected, but Mazzone ruled that it would be beneficial to the defense, as well as the prosecution.