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Bruce Fast was suspicious of son from start

BRADENTON — Bruce Fast told a jury Thursday he immediately “suspected” his son Thomas Fast had something to do with the disappearance of his wife, Thomas’ stepmother.

During his testimony of nearly four hours, Bruce Fast told his son’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Franklin Roberts, during cross examination of his suspicions.

Roberts has tried to raise reasonable doubt that his client killed and dismembered Susan Fast in June 2007 by implying that Bruce Fast instead is behind her death.

During opening arguments, Roberts questioned Bruce Fast’s immediate claim to deputies on the night Susan Fast disappeared that his son had something to do with it before anyone knew what happened to her.

“I said he was suspected,” Bruce Fast told Roberts.

Roberts during cross examination also keyed in on a conversation Bruce Fast had with his son in the Manatee County jail shortly after he was arrested on a gun charge, and before authorities found Susan Fast’s body part stuffed in garbage bags and dumped in a Lakewood Ranch storm drain.

Bruce Fast can be heard saying to his son, “this is the ring Susan was wearing,” showing his son a picture of his wife wearing the ring, Roberts told the jury.

In an argument that did not take place in front of the jury between Roberts and Assistant State Attorney Art Brown, Roberts divulged for the first time he is trying to put doubt in the jury’s mind on his client’s guilt by implying Bruce Fast, not his client, was involved in his wife’s disappearance.

Bruce Fast’s comment in the jail also raised doubt because he made the statement well before his wife’s body had been found, Roberts said. Brown argued that Bruce Fast had gone to the jail and showed the picture to try to get information from his son as to the whereabouts of his wife.

“Is the defense trying to establish with this statement that somehow he is involved?” Brown asked, refering to Bruce Fast.

“Yes,” Roberts answered.

After a judge ruled the statement would be heard in front of the jury, Bruce Fast, obviously angered by Roberts’ inference, later told the panel he did make the statement in the jail, and Roberts ended his cross examination. Fast declined comment after his testimony.

Assistant State Attorney Art Brown did not question Bruce Fast at all about the circumstances surrounding Susan Fast’s disappearance and killing.

Bruce Fast only testified about items he found missing from his home and blood he found in his house when he returned from a business trip to the Bahamas on June 30, 2007.

Brown also made a passing reference to Thomas Fast’s erratic behavior in the years prior to the killing. Bruce Fast testified at times his son would randomly interject comments about work done for the CIA and his knowledge of drug cartels.

Doctors have testified Thomas Fast suffers from mental illness. Thomas Fast’s attorney, Assistant State Attorney Franklin Roberts, picked up on the references to his client’s behavior in the past during cross examination of Bruce Fast. Bruce Fast told Roberts when his son would speak of the CIA or drug cartels he would cut him off.

“I would tell him I don’t want to talk about it, I don’t want to know about it,” Fast said. “I would tell him to take his meds or something.”

Bruce Fast only once looked at his son during his testimony after being prompted by Brown to point him out to jurors. During much of his father’s testimony, Thomas Fast feverishly scribbled on notebook paper, but at times he stared at his father on the stand.

Thomas Fast is accused of first-degree murder and robbery in the theft of the Fast’s sport utility vehicle, which Bradenton police found abandoned with the key in the ignition in the city on June 30, 2007, the day Bruce Fast reported his wife missing.

Roberts said Thomas Fast claims he saw Susan Fast on June 29 in the evening, but left her before going with a woman to the beach. Fast said he later argued with the woman and he took a taxi to his truck, which he had parked in a Publix parking lot a little more than a mile from the Bruce and Susan Fast’s Tara home.

Fast arrived in the taxi to find his father and a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputy waiting. Deputies asked Thomas Fast where his stepmother was and later arrested him after finding a gun in a duffel bag he was carrying.

Sheriff’s Deputy Cynthia Evers testified that Thomas Fast made random statements about Susan Fast during an initial encounter her, without her discussing anything about the case.

“He said, ‘It was wishful thinking that Susan would show up.’ He also mentioned knives and blood in the dishwasher,” Evers said.

Brown also questioned the taxi driver who picked up Thomas Fast and drove him to his truck. Former taxi driver Michael Rosati said Fast told him his name was “Frank” and he claimed to be from North Carolina. Rosati pointed to Thomas Fast in the courtroom and identified him as the person he picked up.

Rosati told the jury when he picked up Fast, he did not have on shoes or socks and he asked him why. Rosati said Thomas Fast claimed a woman robbed him at knife point for his shoes and socks.

Attorneys estimated the trial would be complete by the end of the week, but the state has not yet rested its case. The trial has garnered national attention as “In Session,” formally known as “CourtTV,” has been broadcasting the trial live from the Manatee County Courthouse.

The trial did fail to keep the attention of one juror though. Circuit Judge Gilbert Smith dismissed a woman from the jury who attorneys believe fell asleep during the trial.

Roberts said he saw the woman with her eyes closed several times, and he also received a note from someone in the courtroom that the woman could be heard snoring. Her dismissal left the jury with 13 people, one of whom is the last remaining alternate. The identity of alternates are not announced until the conclusion of a trial.