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Judge overturns Bruce Lisker's conviction in 1983 killing of his mother

Court rules that Lisker was convicted on 'false evidence' and that his attorney -- now a court commissioner -- failed to adequately represent him.

August 08, 2009|Scott Glover and Matt Lait

Besides discounting those four elements of the case against Lisker, Zarefsky found that Monsue had inexplicably dismissed another "likely suspect," who lied about his whereabouts at the time of the murder, admitted being in a knife fight on the day of the crime and acknowledged going to the victim's house and talking to her the day before the slaying.

That suspect, Michael Ryan, who had a long history of violence, later killed himself. Phone records from the Lisker home show that a call was made minutes before the murder -- the number matched that of Ryan's mother, except for the last digit and the area code, which wasn't dialed.

"There is a strong suggestion that someone else was responsible for the crime," Zarefsky said. "In such circumstances, it is more probable than not that no reasonable juror would find [Lisker] guilty of murder beyond a reasonable doubt."

If prosecutors do decide to retry Lisker, they will undoubtedly face a more vigorous defense than Lisker's attorney provided more than two decades ago. For one thing, the credibility of two key prosecution witnesses -- Monsue and the jailhouse informant -- has been damaged.

On Friday, Lisker's attorney said he was gratified by Phillips' ruling. His client's long legal battle to clear his name appears all but over, he said.

"He's won," said attorney William Genego. "And it's about time."

As for Lisker, he said that if prosecutors decide to pursue the case, he will welcome a retrial.

"Bring it," he said.

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scott.glover@latimes.com

matt.lait@latimes.com

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