Thomas Fast claims innocence in murder case

BRADENTON — Accused of killing his stepmother, Thomas Fast says someone else is responsible for her death in 2007.

“I am innocent,” 54-year-old Fast told Circuit Judge Gilbert Smith Jr. on Tuesday. “There are other individuals who had an interest in her death.”

Fast, set for trial on first-degree murder and robbery charges late next month, filed a motion April 6 to dismiss his court-appointed lawyer, assistant public Defender Franklin, and represent himself.

In the motion, Fast wrote he was framed by entities including the Russian mafia and GRU, a foreign intelligence agency. He claims his 60-year-old stepmother, Susan Fast, was an active cartel member and that Roberts won’t contact entities including the FBI or DEA for “relevant casework.”

“I have a theory of defense,” Fast told Smith during a hearing on the motion. “I have talked to Roberts about it and he won’t do anything about it. He refuses to investigate drug trafficking and human trafficking (regarding) regular individuals she (Susan Fast) has been involved with. He just wants to concentrate on the time she disappeared and was found killed unfortunately. “

Fast told the judge that Roberts thinks he should be sent to a mental health facility for the rest of his life.

“He wants to pursue a not-guilty verdict by reason of insanity,” Fast said. “It couldn’t be further from the truth.”

In court Tuesday, Roberts said that his client has a delusional pattern of thinking.

He told Smith that he has not filed a notice to rely on an insanity defense. “At this point we are pursing other defenses,” Roberts said. “I think it’s fair to say I have listened to him . . . some of the things would not be fruitful to pursue. He focuses on things that seem to be fanciful.”

Smith said he will schedule a private hearing with Fast and Roberts and listen to Fast’s “theory of defense” for his case.

Until then, he reserved ruling on Fast’s motion to dismiss Roberts as his attorney.

Susan Fast’s husband, Bruce Fast, sat in court and listened to the hearing at the Manatee County Judicial Center.

“Unbelievable,” Bruce Fast said when asked what he thought about his son claiming his wife was an active cartel member.

His son suffers from hallucinations, he said.

Bradenton defense attorney Colleen Gleen said defendants with court-appointed attorneys who want to dismiss their lawyer do not have the right to choose new court-appointed counsel.

“When a defendant files a motion to dismiss his court appointed counsel it is presumed that he is exercising his right to represent himself,” Glenn said. “Going forward without legal representation puts the untrained defendant at a severe disadvantage and is rarely a wise decision.”

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, has told detectives he was CIA operative and has continuously spoken of the GRU. Fast even gave detectives a contact number to the CIA, claiming he worked for the agency. When detectives called the number, they reached the CIA.

According to sheriff’s reports, when Susan Fast was missing, Thomas Fast said the GRU and DEA agents could be working together and were involved in her disappearance.

Lawyers in the Fast case will return to the Manatee County Judicial Center next month to argue whether a jury will hear some statements Fast gave police after his stepmother disappeared.

During a June 30, 2007 interview, Thomas Fast reportedly told a detective that time was not on his missing stepmother’s side. As of that date, Susan Fast’s body had not been discovered.

Roberts plans to ask a judge to toss statements from that interview, claiming Manatee County Sheriff’s Office detectives improperly interrogated Fast.

A former funeral home embalmer and Army paramedic, Fast was indicted in August 2007. In February 2008, assistant state Attorney Art Brown announced prosecutors would not seek the death penalty against him. If convicted of first-degree murder, he could be sentenced to life in prison.

This is the second time Fast has tried to get the court to dismiss Roberts. Former felony Circuit Judge Janette Dunnigan denied his first request in October.

She also ruled he is competent to stand trial. Although Fast “suffers, or at least has suffered, from delusions,” Dunnigan ruled Fast is mentally fit for trial.

He understands the charges against him, the penalties he faces if convicted and the legal process, Dunnigan wrote in her ruling.