Saturday, February 16, 2008

State drops death penalty in Fast murder case

Published Friday, Feb. 15, 2008 at 11:27 a.m.

BRADENTON — Thomas L. Fast, accused of stabbing and cutting up his stepmother last year, will not face the death penalty if he is convicted in the murder, a prosecutor announced Friday.

The prosecutor, Art Brown, said a review of mitigating and aggravating factors convinced him the pursuit of the death penalty was not justified. Brown, however, said he could not elaborate about the decision.

Family members say Fast, 53, is mentally ill and prone to irrational thought. His attorney, Franklin Roberts, said in a court brief that Fast is likely not competent to stand trial because of mental health disabilities.

Brown and Roberts are expected in court soon to discuss Fast’s mental health condition in front of Judge Janette Dunnigan. Two doctors have examined Fast, and Dunnigan could appoint a third expert if they did not reach the same conclusion about his health.

If Fast is found incompetent to stand trial, he will be held in a secure custody at a mental health facility in Florida.

Susan Fast, 61, disappeared from her home in East Manatee in June. She was missing for several weeks before authorities found her dismembered body in a pond behind Publix on Market Street in Lakewood Ranch.

Thomas Fast faces up to life in prison without parole if he is convicted on the murder charge

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