BRADENTON — Bruce Fast is preparing to face a man he knows all too well — the man he believes killed and dismembered his wife.
He has not seen his son since authorities put Thomas Fast in jail on charges of killing Susan Fast, stuffing her body parts in garbage bags and dumping them in a storm drain behind a Lakewood Ranch Publix shopping center in 2007.
And Bruce Fast plans to tell jurors today that he has never wavered in believing his son killed his wife in June 2007.
“I have thought it from the beginning,” Fast told the Bradenton Herald on Wednesday.
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Since his son’s arrest, Bruce Fast has not wanted to visit him in jail.
“I haven’t had any desire since everything happened,” he said. “It has been difficult.”
Bruce Fast’s testimony today is likely not only to include his statements on behalf of prosecutors, but also to face defending himself during cross examination.
During opening statements Wednesday, Thomas Fast’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Franklin Roberts, looked to establish reasonable doubt for his client by calling into question Bruce Fast’s actions during the investigation into the disappearance of his wife.
Roberts also questioned the fact that Bruce Fast always implicated his son as having something to do with his wife’s disappearance.
“From the very beginning, he was stating that Thomas must be involved before anybody knew anything about what happened to Susan,” Roberts said.
Roberts also said Bruce Fast contaminated the crime scene in his house after he called authorities to report his wife missing. Roberts said he also plans to call a witness who helped look for Susan as part of several search parties arranged by Bruce Fast in the days following his wife’s disappearance.
The witness will testify that he found items from the Fast home 10 feet from Bruce Fast’s truck during one of the searches along rural Lorraine Road, Roberts said.
“He will testify they looked like they had been placed there and it seemed strange to him,” Roberts said.
Fast said he could not comment more on the case before he testifies, but said he is prepared to face extensive questioning.
“I’m sure they will have plenty of questions for me,” he said.
Roberts not only pointed suspicion at Bruce Fast, but also raised the prospect of an unknown man who a witness saw Susan Fast talking to in the same Publix where deputies first encountered Thomas Fast’s truck.
The witness will testify she saw Susan Fast talking to a man with dark hair June 29, and that she looked uneasy, Roberts said.
Assistant State Attorney Art Brown painted a very different picture of what happened to Susan Fast. Brown called June 30, 2007, “the last day in the life of Susan Fast.”
“The only person known to have last seen Susan Fast sits before you,” he said as he pointed at Thomas Fast. The defendant, dressed in a tie and dress shirt, sat at a table with his attorneys.
Brown said Susan Fast returned from a business trip to the Bahamas without her husband Bruce on June 28; he reported her missing when he returned on the night of June 29.
As crime scene technicians processed the Fasts’ Tara home, Bruce Fast located his son’s truck in the Publix shopping center at State Road 70 and Interstate 75, a little more than a mile from the Fast home.
Bruce Fast notified a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputy, and at 3 a.m. he and the deputy witnessed Fast pull up to the truck in a taxi carrying two duffel bags, Brown said.
Thomas Fast said he had last seen his stepmother around 5 p.m. the day before at the Fasts’ home, where they discussed a construction project being done by Bruce Fast’s company. Thomas Fast then told the deputy he had gone to the beach with a woman he had met after leaving his stepmother, and returned to his truck by taxi after he and the woman had fought, Roberts told the jury.
Brown said processing of the Fast home revealed spots of Susan Fast’s blood, as well as a paper towel with a spot of Thomas Fast’s blood on it in a laundry room. Roberts argued the blood on the paper towel did not prove guilt because Thomas Fast often frequented the home as a guest and DNA tests cannot prove how long blood has been somewhere.
Evidence found in Susan Fast’s missing Lexus sport utility vehicle, and a GPS system inside, also shows Thomas Fast killed his stepmother, Brown told the jury. Brown said Thomas Fast’s DNA was found in the SUV, and GPS tracking showed the vehicle had been driven in the area where deputies found Susan Fast’s body parts.
Bradenton police later found the SUV abandoned in the city at Sixth Street East and 11th Avenue East, with the keys in the ignition. A witness later said she saw Fast leaving the SUV, according to police reports. Thomas Fast is also charged with robbery of the SUV.
Roberts argued Fast’s DNA got in the Lexus during his brief encounter with his stepmother on the evening of June 29, but there is no evidence linking him to Susan Fast’s body.