Man who killed grandparents committed to psychiatric hospital for 120 years

·5 min read

Aug. 6—Judges on Thursday committed 20-year-old Marcus Fisher, who brutally stabbed his grandparents to death in 2019, to 120 years in a state psychiatric hospital two months after finding him not guilty of the murders by reason of insanity.

Three years ago, 77-year-old Gertrude Piscezek and her 76-year-old husband, John, were stabbed and beaten to death Jan. 28, 2019, in their Montville kitchen. Three New London Superior Court judges in June ruled that they died at the hands of their then 18-year-old grandson, who had come to live with them from Minnesota in an attempt to straighten out his life, but he was insane at the time of the murders.

Judges Hillary B. Strackbein, Shari Murphy and Harry E. Calmar on Thursday listened to the harrowing, heartbreaking testimony of the victims' family and friends and ordered that Fisher continue to be held at the maximum-security area of Middletown's Whiting Forensic Hospital for continued treatment. The maximum time he could have faced was 140 years.

Psychiatrists who testified in court this week and in June diagnosed Fisher with schizophrenia and said his violent acts were the result of hallucinations that made him believe he was receiving messages from another world, that he was a God and needed to kill his grandparents as a form of sacrifice.

Five emotional, tear-filled statements were read in court Thursday by members of the Piscezek family and friends of the couple, including Gertrude and John Piscezek's son, Greg Piscezek; Greg Piscezek's wife, April; Gertrude Piscezek's brother-in-law; a man who considered the Piscezeks his adopted parents; and the couples' best friend.

They wept as each recounted the emotional trauma they've endured and shared how deeply they miss the couple, described as kind, gentle, generous and caring.

Greg Piscezek, son of the victims and uncle to Fisher, slammed his fists on the table and cried as he said, "again, I ask what my parents did to deserve this." An advocate from victim services held a photo of his parents in front of him.

He said his father was his best friend and the person he turned to for advice on everything in life. His mother, he said, was "the sweetest, gentlest person on this planet." He repeatedly called his nephew a "monster."

Greg Piscezek said he has been unable to sleep and has become hateful, angry and withdrawn in the years since his parents' murder. "On the day my parents died, I died too."

His wife, April, was the first to speak before the court. She showed what she said was the last photo she ever took of her parents-in-law, sobbing as she recounted the days that followed the murders.

"I think the worst part of all of this is what is ingrained in my memory and senses even after the cleanup crew spent three days cleaning the house on Morgan Street before we went in," she said of the couple's Montville home, which Fisher tried to set on fire after the murders. "I have not recovered mentally or emotionally from seeing the floor cut out where their bodies laid, or the drywall cut out from the walls in the kitchen all the way down to the basement where the blood drained out, to the molding on the ceiling or the smell of the fire that was lit to cover up the crime."

Each person who spoke asked that the court commit Fisher to the longest period of time possible. Senior Assistant State's Attorney Theresa Ferryman, prosecutor for the state, asked for the same. She implored the judges to focus on the public's safety when imposing the commitment.

Fisher, wearing a gray sweatsuit and navy blue mask, was brought into court from Whiting Forensic Hospital in Middletown, the state's hospital for the criminally insane. He has been committed to the hospital, undergoing evaluations and treatment, since the same judges found him not guilty by reason of insanity in June.

The court on Thursday also heard from Dr. Reena Kapoor, Chief of Forensic Services at Whiting, who has evaluated Fisher three times since he was committed. She agreed with previous psychiatrists' testimony that he is schizophrenic and was experiencing psychosis at the time of the murders.

Two psychiatrists, Dr. Catherine Lewis and Dr. Peter Morgan, had testified in June that Fisher was "grossly psychotic" at the time of the murders and was suffering from a psychotic episode consistent with their diagnosis of schizophrenia. Morgan, who evaluated Fisher in 2019, said Fisher told him that he thought his life was an arcade game and needed to insert another coin to keep living. He told Morgan that God and a "third eye" told Fisher that he could get another coin without dying himself if he killed his grandparents.

Kapoor said Fisher's symptoms were being partially treated by medication, but not fully, and he has become a little more removed from his delusions. Still, she said he presents a danger to society if he were released. She recommended he remain in the hospital under maximum security.

Attorney Kevin Barrs, representing Fisher, said that he knows his client isn't proud of what he did or happy that his grandparents are dead. He said he wished Fisher had gotten mental health treatment before the murders, but hopes he will get the help he needs now.

When given an opportunity to speak to the court, Fisher declined.

After a brief recess following the testimony of the victims' family and friends, the judges came to their unanimous decision.

Strackbein said it would be difficult to predict who else would be put at risk for violence if Fisher were ever released.

t.hartz@theday.com