First-degree murder trial delayed

BRADENTON — A man accused of killing his stepmother in 2007 will wait until next month to see if a judge determines whether his Miranda rights were violated.

Thomas Fast had a suppression hearing scheduled this afternoon at the Manatee County Judicial Center, but Circuit Judge Gilbert Smith Jr. postponed it until April 28. Smith today was scheduled to attend the funeral of former 12th Circuit Judge Robert Hensley, who died late last week.

Fast’s lawyer, Franklin Roberts’ plans to ask Smith to toss statements from a June 30, 2007, interview, claiming Manatee County Sheriff’s Office detective Ricardo Alvarado improperly interrogated Fast.

Fast, 54, has pleaded not guilty to murder and robbery charges in connection with the death of his stepmother, Susan Fast.

He had been set for trial next week at the Manatee County Judicial Center, but Smith delayed the trial until late May.

Roberts doesn’t want a jury to know about his client’s statements and says they should be thrown out because Fast’s rights were violated.

In a Feb. 12 motio, Roberts wrote that Alvarado continued to engage the defendant and to question him after he had clearly invoked his right to counsel and to remain silent.

Susan Fast 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.

Fast, who doctors say has experienced mental health problems since 1981, was indicted in August 2007 on a first-degree murder charge.

In February 2008, prosecutors announced they would not seek the death penalty against the former funeral home embalmer and Army paramedic. If convicted of first-degree murder, Fast would be sentenced to life in prison.