Brian G. Fitch, the man convicted of killing Mendota Heights police officer Scott Patrick in West St. Paul and shooting at officers in St. Paul when they tried to arrest him, has appealed his case to the Minnesota Supreme Court.
In documents filed Tuesday, attorneys for Fitch said his constitutional rights were violated when prosecutors took the rare step of convening a multicounty grand jury, which indicted him on charges of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder, among others. That allowed the offenses to be tried jointly.
The offenses happened in two counties — Patrick’s killing in Dakota County and the gunfight in Ramsey County — and should be tried separately, the appeal said. The appeal asks for Fitch’s convictions to be reversed and seeks two new trials.
Defense attorneys filed a similar motion with the district court before Fitch’s trial. Dakota County District Judge Mary Theisen ruled in early December that the multicounty indictment would stand and Fitch would be tried jointly because the crimes were part of a “single behavioral incident.”
The judge had agreed with defense attorneys a few days earlier that the trial should be moved out of Dakota County because of extensive publicity.
Patrick, 47, the married father of two, was killed shortly after noon on July 30, 2014, after he made a routine traffic stop of a green Pontiac Grand Am on Dodd Road in West St. Paul. He was shot three times before reaching the driver’s-side window. Fitch was found after an eight-hour manhunt.
He was convicted in February in Stearns County of all charges against him and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
In the appeal, assistant state public defender Melissa Sheridan argued the district court “erred when it refused to dismiss the indictment, or at the very least sever the Ramsey County counts for a separate trial in Ramsey County.” The appeal said a defendant has the constitutional right to be prosecuted in the county or district where the crime was committed.