Judge Dismisses Charges against Cliff Finch

June 15, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The father of Olympic snowboarder Andy Finch has been cleared of the most serious charges against him, but Cliff Finch isn't completely out of trouble.A judge ruled on Monday Cliff Finch did not intend to kill Fresno Police Officers during a confrontation back in 2007. The judge said both the DA's office and Finch would benefit by settling the case. Finch still faces three charges including assault with a weapon on an officer. The defense hopes Monday's development means a plea deal could be in the works.

Family members and Cliff Finch had no idea what to expect when they walked into court Monday afternoon. Judge Edward Sarkisian heard two days worth of testimony during the preliminary hearing last week. Judge Sarkisian decided no evidence existed showing Finch intended to kill officers. The judge dismissed two attempted murdered charges.

Cliff Finch said after the hearing, "I couldn't imagine a charge like that against me. To hear him (the judge) say that was nice."

Both sides agree Finch led police on a wild chase in September 2007. The defense said Finch suffered a serve mental break down. The prosecutor argued Finch intended to kill two officers when he fired his weapon at them. Officers fired back striking Finch several times. Now he is in a wheel chair. Judge Sarkisian encouraged both sides to find a resolution. Finch's Attorney Ralph Torrez said, "The Finch family doesn't want to prolong this. We are hoping the prosecutor looks at this as a blessing and we can settle this case and move on."

The prosecutor had no comment regarding settlement negotiations. Finch's legal troubles are far from over with three felony charges still against him. Finch said, "We are happy that the judge made the ruling that he did."

The prosecutor said his office could still re-file charges against finch. Both sides return to court June 30.

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