Judge: Murder suspect Fast can’t fire his lawyer

nalund@bradenton.comMay 21, 2009 

BRADENTON — Accused killer Thomas Fast is in court this afternoon because his attorney wants a judge to suppress some statements he gave to police after his stepmother disappeared in the summer of 2007.

Fast is scheduled for trial in early July on murder and robbery charges in connection to the death of his stepmother, Susan Fast. The 60-year-old woman was last seen June 29, 2007, when she returned home from the Bahamas. Her dismembered body was found in garbage bags July 25, 2007, in a storm drain next to a pond behind a Lakewood Ranch shopping plaza.

Shortly afterwards, a grand jury indicted Fast on first-degree and robbery charges.

Thomas Fast’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Franklin Roberts, claims that statements his client made to sheriff’s detectives about his stepmother should be suppressed. During a June 30, 2007, interview, he reportedly told a detective that time was not on his missing stepmother’s side. As of that date, her body had not been discovered.

Roberts, according to his motion to suppress, said detectives improperly interrogated Fast.

Circuit Judge Gilbert Smith Jr., who will preside over the July 6, trial, will ultimately decide.

Earlier this morning, Smith denied a motion written by Fast to dismiss Roberts as his attorney. Fast had filed a motion to fire Roberts and represent himself.

But this morning Smith told Fast he would be deprived of a fair trial if he were allowed to get rid of Roberts and represent himself in court.

“You have a competent and talented attorney in Franklin Roberts,” Smith said.

Smith told Fast he was competent to stand trial but not competent to waive his right to an attorney. He encouraged Fast to work with his attorney and focus on his defense.

In his motion, Fast wrote he was framed by entities including the Russian mafia and a Russian intelligence service. His motion states that his stepmother was an active cartel member and that Roberts won’t contact the FBI or Drug Enforcement Administration for “relevant casework.”

During a hearing before Smith late last month, Fast claimed that Roberts refuses to investigate his claims.

His father and Susan Fast’s husband, Bruce Fast, has said his son suffers from hallucinations.

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