Cliff Finch Waiting for Judge's Decision

June 11, 2009 7:07:05 PM PDT
A judge will soon decide if the father of a local Olympian will go to trial. Cliff Finch is accused of trying to killing Fresno Police Officers after a wild chase. Finch is facing 5 criminal charges ranging from attempted murder to assaulting an officer. On Thursday, Finch's preliminary hearing started with both his family and officers describing the moments that left finch nearly paralyzed.Olympic snow boarder Andy Finch wheeled his father Cliff into court. Cliff's brother-in-law Lawrence Dami was the first witness. Dami said, "We attended church together for a great number of years. I knew Cliff as a strong church Christian man." Dami testified Cliff came to his house, banged on his door in September 2007 and pushed his way inside. Dami described his brother-in-law as acting possessed by demons moments before the shooting, "He wasn't in his normal voice or normal look." The prosecutor asked, "How would you describe his demeanor?" Dami answered, "Crazy." Prosecutor asked, "Was he angry?" Dami answered, "It was a mixture of anger, craziness, insanity."

Dami called 911 because Cliff left with a gun. Officer David Robinson said he tried to stop the defendant but Cliff sped down Herndon at 100 miles per hour. Robinson demonstrated what Cliff did when officers eventually stopped him, "He was pointing out to the passenger side of the vehicle with his arm extended."

Officer Robinson fired 12 rounds. 7 bullets hit Finch leaving him wheel chair bound. His defense attorney Ralph Torrez said Finch suffers from a mental illness possibly related to his Vietnam War experience. Torrez said, "If you are sick, you can not punish people who are sick. We as civilized society don't do that. We help those people."

The preliminary hearing will continue Friday. The prosecutor will call more police officers to testify. Afterwards, the judge should decide if there is enough evidence to send Finch to trial.

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