NEW LEXINGTON — A 23-year-old Glouster man accused in the death of a Corning resident has been cleared of charges of murder and felonious assault.
Brandon Keith was first charged in July in the death of 55-year-old Fred Fisher. The Perry County Prosecutor’s Office presented the case to a grand jury Monday which included an additional murder charge. After hearing the case, the grand jury decided not to return an indictment, exonerating Keith.
Keith, through his attorney Bob Toy, has contended that he acted in self-defense when he and Fisher became involved in an altercation last July at a convenience store in Corning. Toy presented a surveillance video at a preliminary hearing that indicated that not only did Fisher throw the first punch but also that he had left the area following an earlier argument only to later return and instigated the physical altercation.
The grand jury saw the same video. Perry County Prosecutor Joseph Flautt said he believes it likely played a role in the decision not to indict.
“We presented a charge of murder that said he (Keith) caused the death of another as a result of committing a felony of violence. The basis of their finding was that Mr. Keith was defending himself and that self-defense applied,” Flautt said.
“It is sad that somebody is dead, Brandon is not happy about what happened,” Toy said. “And, in fact (during preliminary) we presented witnesses who backed his claim that he repeatedly said to Mr. Fisher that he did not want to fight but he had to defend himself and that if Mr. Fisher had not come back (to the scene) none of this would have happened.”
The video was shot from a camera outside of John’s Place in Corning, where Keith had placed a food order. He was waiting outside for the order when he was approached by Fisher, the two appeared to exchange words before Fisher left. Minutes later he returned to confront Keith again, only this time their exchange turned violent.
The video appeared to show that Fisher threw the first punch before Keith retaliated, striking Fisher who then fell to the pavement and suffered a serious head injury. An employee who witnessed the altercation called 911. Fisher was transported to a hospital in Columbus where he died three days later from his injuries. The Franklin County coroner identified the cause of death as blunt force head trauma. Keith was taken into custody the morning after the fight but had been free on bond since his preliminary hearing in July.
“Anybody who sees the tape would come to only one conclusion and that is Brandon Keith acted in self-defense,” Toy said. “This has been a very trying time for Brandon, nobody is happy but I think that justice was done in that he committed no crime.”
Flautt said there are no plans to continue the case following the results of the grand jury,
“I think they considered all of the facts of the case and reached a just decision. I see no reason to continue unless some other evidence that counters the video evidence comes to light,” he said.