Mistrial? Grant Fuhrman defense raises the possibility

Fuhrman trial continues on day three
Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 3:45 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 24, 2023 at 5:54 PM CST
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OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - Testimony began Tuesday in the attempted-murder trial of former Oshkosh West High School student Grant Fuhrman.

Fuhrman is charged with attempted murder first degree - intentional homicide - accused of stabbing school resource officer Mike Wissink in 2019. The officer said he shot the student to stop the attack. Both were taken to a hospital. Fuhrman, now 20, was 16 at the time.

A jury was chosen Monday, and on the next day, the Winnebago County court heard opening statements from both sides and went right into witness testimony.

Today, the state wanted to focus on evidence. The defense cross-examination wanted to highlight on how it was collected.

And officer who took the stand today testified that the scene on the day of the crime was chaotic and that the crime scene was not perfectly preserved.

One example of that was: An officer had asked for a pair of scissors to cut off Fuhrman’s clothing to see his wounds - after being shot by Officer Wissink during their struggle.

Scissors were taken from Wissink’s office - but when they didn’t work, the officer said he tossed them back into Wissink’s office.

The state shared some police body cam video to demonstrate in court how chaotic the crime scene was.

The defense later asked about alleged mishandling of evidence at the scene and proper procedures.

Another officer took the stand who knew Fuhrman before the incident. He had coached him in football when he was younger. The officer was in the hospital with Fuhrman and told the jury that Fuhrman made comments about how he didn’t know what got into him and that he liked Officer Wissink.

The first witness was the teacher who ran to help after hearing gunshots inside the school. The state and the defense both agree that the teacher was a hero.

The defense than asked in cross if he thought Fuhrman wanted to hurt himself. Timothy Casper, Fuhrman’s defense lawyer, asked: “Did it occur to you that when Grant made those comments that there may be a suicide by cop situation happening that may have occurred in the room?” Sergeant Brett Robertson, from the Oshkosh Police Department, responded: “I had no idea and I wasn’t trying to draw any conclusions as to what took place.”

The same sergeant, Brett Robertson, is the one who rendered aid to Fuhrman after he was shot. The defense attorney added that Fuhrman wanted to thank him for helping him. Fuhrman actually was heard in court saying “thank you” to that officer.

On the day before, while on the stand, Oshkosh West math teacher Kenneth Levine talked about the moments leading up to the incident on December 3, 2019. He said he heard gunshots and first thought it was someone hitting a locker really hard, but after seeing the frightened reaction of one of his students he quickly realized it was much worse.

Levine ran outside the classroom, and he could hear Officer Michael Wissink yellowing for help. Levine added that he sounded like it was life or death.

Levine ran into the room and says he saw both Fuhrman and Wissink very clearly injured. Levine said Officer Wissink told him he needed a tourniquet, and Levine jumped into action.

“I thought, ‘Grant is going to die.’ I knew Mike was really bad off, but he seemed like he would be able to control the situation for a few seconds, so I ran out of the room and I tried banging on the classroom doors next to him and across the doors to see if someone would come and they didn’t -- because they were doing what they were supposed to do [a lockdown] -- so then I ran down to the nurse’s office which is probably another 25, 30 yards down the hall, tried banging on that door and yelling for a tourniquet and realized that they’re not going to come either because they’re doing what they’re supposed to do, so I ran back to Mike’s room and I used my belt as a tourniquet.”

Another teacher and a now-retired medical doctor also took the stand.

After the jury left for a break, the defense discussed possibly asking for a mistrial because the State asked the doctor about certain injuries Officer Wissink sustained. Prosecutors, who allege Fuhrman brought a pronged BBQ fork to stab the officer, asked the doctor if the injuries could have been consistent with any of the items in Wissink’s office.

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The defense says prosecutors asked questions it did not prepare the defense for. Prosecutors say the defense opened the door to the questions.

The defense said it was not properly made aware of this questioning or asking the doctor’s opinion on those specifics, so it could not properly prepare a response.

“The State has not ever, in over 3 years, put that on notice to the defense. The State has filed previous witness lists with literally a couple sentences as to what they intended to introduce from Dr. Westphal,” defense attorney Timothy Casper said.

The State argued the questioning was fair game because the defense brought up the issues during opening statements.

The defense’s concerns were noted for the court record.

Prosecutors and defense agree the math teacher who testified was a hero on the day of the stabbing at Oshkosh West High School