Judge orders expedited release of grand jury minutes in Fanion trial

SPRINGFIELD- Another pre-trial hearing took place Jan. 16 in Hampden County Superior Court for retired Westfield police det. Brian Fanion, 55, who is accused of killing his wife, Amy Fanion, 51,  in May 2018 and staging it as a suicide.

Fanion was absent from the hearing, but attorney Jeffrey Brown was there in his stead. Brown requested to Judge Michael Callan that the prosecutors representing the Commonwealth be ordered to comply with rule 14, which concerns pre-trial discovery. 

Much of the case against Fanion relies on expert testimony and some out of state witnesses.

Assistant District Attorney Mary Sandstrom said that some expert testimony has not yet been provided as they prefer to have the experts come and give their testimony in person rather than submitting written reports. 

She added that the prosecutors plan to comply with the request to give the grand jury minutes, but that they are written by private third-party company Philben and Associates. Sandstrom said that the minutes include approximately two days of testimony. She said that there has been a delay in providing the minutes as Philben and Associates has a lengthy backlog of other cases they need to transcribe and release going back to September. Fanion was arrested in November. 

Judge Callan said that he would give an order for the minutes to be expedited and “put on top of the pile.”

Brown noted that he does not yet know what experts he needs for the defense because he has been unable to read the opinions given in the grand jury minutes.

Fanion’s arrest in November came after a State Police investigation that lasted more than a year. During Fanion’s indictment and bail hearing, Sandstrom said that Fanion’s story detailing the moments before and after his wife’s death was inconsistent. She said that Fanion had been having an affair and wanted to leave his wife, but did not want to risk losing part of his police pension in a divorce. 

She added that text messages, his internet search history, and the angle at which Amy Fanion had been shot from indicate that foul play had occurred rather than a suicide.  Fanion maintained his innocence and entered a plea of not guilty.

Fanion’s next pre-trial hearing is scheduled for Feb. 5, however he is not expected to be present.

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