Attorneys agree to label Fayette case road rage
By Mary Pickels
Published: Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Opposing attorneys in a trial in which a Fayette County man stands accused of attempted homicide agreed Monday that the case was one of road rage.
But while Assistant District Attorney Michelle Kelly told a jury that Ralph Ore Fisher, 23, is guilty, defense attorney Sam Davis said any road rage was on the part of Fisher's “alleged victim,” Derek McKulka, 29, of Connellsville.
Fisher was charged by state police with aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment, criminal mischief and propulsion of missiles into an occupied vehicle, in a May 15, 2012. incident in North Union.
Police said Fisher fired seven shots from a 9 mm handgun at McKulka, who was driving a small sport utility vehicle that rammed the back of Fisher's car on Pittsburgh Street.
McKulka sustained gunshot wounds to his hands.
“There are times when you have a right to stand your ground,” Davis said.
Kelley told the jury the case centered on “street justice.”
She said McKulka came upon Fisher's vehicle, which he told police was moving slowly and stopped suddenly in front of McKulka two times.
McKulka told police he could not stop his Geo Tracker from rear-ending Fisher's Hyundai Elantra the second time.
Kelley said McKulka will testify that he saw Fisher exit his vehicle and reach into “his waist area.”
As McKulka put his car in reverse, Kelley said, Fisher pointed a gun at the Tracker and fired seven times.
She said McKulka was trying to get away from Fisher.
Davis said a person has a right to protect himself if he fears for his own life.
“It used to be that you had to try to get out of the way and retreat. It is not that way anymore,” he said.
“Ralph Fisher shot until his gun was empty because he was scared to death,” Davis said.
He noted that McKulka has a criminal record, having pleaded guilty in 2007 to prohibited offensive weapons, risking a catastrophe, driving under the influence, reckless endangerment and careless driving.
State police filed the charges when four pipe bombs were found outside a car McKulka was driving when it crashed in April 2006 on Route 40.
As part of a plea bargain, more serious charges of possession of weapons of mass destruction and arson were dropped and McKulka was sentenced to six months intermediate punishment.
Fisher, who is free on bond, is expected to testify in his own defense. The trial will resume at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday before Senior Common Pleas Judge Gerald R. Solomon.
Mary Pickels is a writer for Trib Total Media..
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