The man who aimed a handgun at another motorist and fatally fired at him in traffic in 2013 was given a life sentence Wednesday.
Ada County District Judge Jason Scott rejected a prosecutor’s recommendation to sentence Shawn N. Fisher, 37, to a lesser term that would allow him to one day seek parole. In working out a plea deal for Fisher to plead guilty in July to second-degree murder, the Ada County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said it would ask for a life term, but with the chance for parole after 25 years.
Scott said he had concerns about whether Fisher could safely re-enter society. He said Fisher had a history of not taking medication prescribed for mental health issues.
When Fisher pleaded guilty, her told Scott he purposely aimed a handgun at Matthew Mohler-Kerns, 28 , a Boise restaurant manager, but didn’t mean to kill him on Feb. 19, 2013.
Prosecutors agreed to drop a first-degree murder charge against Fisher in exchange for his guilty plea to the lesser charge. They also agreed to drop six other counts of aggravated assault, battery use of a deadly weapon, resisting police and possession of a controlled substance. He had faced a minimum of 10 years in prison.
A judge committed Fisher to a prison mental health program for several months after finding he was mentally ill. Afterward, Fisher was found competent to stand trial.
Fisher, a high school dropout, worked as a machine operator at the time of the incident. His shooting of Mohler-Kerns was his second that Tuesday evening, according to court records, which detail the events as follows:
Shortly after 8 p.m., he reportedly rammed his car into the back of another vehicle parked across two spaces in an apartment complex near Canal Street and Vista Avenue. The owner had left the car to go to his apartment to get something. After the owner returned, Fisher fired a shot through the passenger window. The bullet barely missed the driver.
Fisher drove away. A few minutes later, at 8:25 p.m., Fisher shot Mohler-Kerns while in traffic on Franklin Road near Benjamin Lane.
Ten minutes later, at 8:35 p.m., Ada County dispatchers received a 911 call from Fisher’s stepmother. She said her stepson was pounding on the door of her home in the 5100 block of South Umatilla Avenue, demanding to be let in. Neighbors also called to report a man yelling and trying to get inside their homes.
Fisher ran away. A Boise police officer found him at 11 p.m. hiding behind a day care center in the 5000 block of South Cole Road. He was holding the .38-caliber handgun used in both shootings and refusing to give himself up. Officers sent a police dog to restrain him. He appeared intoxicated, police said.
As Fisher struggled with the dog, an officer shot him with a Taser. Police arrested him and recovered the gun.
Fisher told police that he felt threatened by a secret society with which he had contact through his video game system.
In an earlier court hearing, psychiatrist Camile LaCroix, working for the defense, said Fisher suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, an illness in which a person loses touch with reality.
Craig Beaver, another psychologist who examined Fisher for the defense, said he exhibited bizarre behaviors, suffered from delusions and paranoia, and heard voices while incarcerated. Beaver said Fisher suffered from schizoaffective disorder, which includes schizophrenia symptoms and mood disorders.
Chad Sombke, a psychologist working for prosecutors, found that Fisher was “irritable and somewhat paranoid and angry.” But he attributed that to Fisher’s incarceration and the fact he was facing serious felony charges. He did not find Fisher to be suffering from mental illness.
Former 4th District Judge Ron Wilper found that Fisher suffered from a mental illness and was not able to assist in his defense. Fisher was sent to the prison mental health program and in February 2014 was declared legally competent.
Scott said Fisher killed Mohler-Kerns with a “conscious disregard” for Mohler-Kerns’ life.
Mohler-Kerns graduated from Post Falls High School in 2003 and later earned a bachelor’s degree from Boise State University. He was planning to enter a master’s program in business administration in the fall of 2013. He had worked at Murphy's Seafood and Steakhouse at 1555 S. Broadway for more than five years and had worked his way up to manager. The restaurant has since closed.