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Lisker, freed from jail, back in court

August 17, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
State prosecutors have not yet decided whether to appeal a Riverside federal court judge's decision overturning the conviction of a San Fernando Valley man for the murder of his mother, a deputy attorney general said Monday. Bruce Lisker, 44, was released on bail Thursday from Mule Creek State Prison near Sacramento -- the first time he has been out of custody since his 1983 arrest.

Lisker was convicted in 1985 in the beating death of his 66-year-old mother, Dorka, and sentenced to 16 years to life in prison. A Los Angeles Times investigation in 2005 called into question much of the evidence used to convict him.

U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips voided Lisker's conviction Aug. 7, concurring with a U.S. magistrate judge's opinion that "false evidence" had been used to prosecute the defendant. She said Lisker needs to be either retried or freed outright.

At a hearing in Riverside today, Supervising Deputy Attorney General Scott Taryle said his office still had not decided whether or not to appeal Phillips' decision.

While that decision is pending, Lisker was scheduled to appear in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom Friday.

Lisker, who attended today's hearing, was warned by Phillips to abide by all the terms of his $200,000 bail.

"It's incredibly important that you meet all the conditions," Phillips said.

She noted that if he violates any of his release terms, a $57,000 property bond put up by his cousin and a $100,000 bond posted by a supporter could be forfeited.

Under the terms of his release, Lisker must stay in a court-approved residence in Southern California, find employment or enroll in school, undergo mental health counseling as needed, and be subject to periodic drug and alcohol testing.

The California Attorney General's Office has roughly four months to appeal the ruling overturning Lisker's conviction. During that period, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office may also announce plans to retry the case.

Dorka Lisker was beaten and stabbed in her Sherman Oaks home, where she died on the floor. Her then-17-year-old son reported finding her body when he went to the house to borrow a tool.

Prosecutors argued Lisker could not have seen his mother on the floor from outside the house, that he had his mother's blood on his clothes, that he confessed to a jailhouse informant, and his bloody shoe prints were the only prints found at the scene.

The Times investigation found he could have seen his mother through the window, the blood could have gotten on his clothes when he went to her aid, and the snitch was unreliable.

The investigation also found that a bloody print located in the house was not made by Lisker's shoes but appeared to match an apparent shoe impression on the woman's head.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Ralph Zarefsky found that Lisker's defense lawyer, now a court commissioner, performed poorly during the trial, depriving the defendant of his constitutional right to effective counsel.

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