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Thursday, January 20, 1994 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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State High Court Reinstates Attempted-Murder Conviction

The state Supreme Court has reinstated the first-degree attempted murder conviction of a Renton man, ruling that the jury's deliberations-room re-enactment of the shooting was proper.

A year ago, the state Court of Appeals reversed Jerry Bibb Balisok's 1990 conviction, ruling that the jury had essentially created new evidence by play-acting Balisok's version of a struggle he said he had with the victim, Emmett Thompson.

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled Tuesday that the jury did nothing but critically examine Balisok's version of events.

Balisok's true name wasn't known until after his conviction and even while testifying in his murder trial, he refused to give his real name.

He claimed he and Thompson were target-shooting at Tiger Mountain near Issaquah Sept. 5, 1989, when Thompson, a smaller man, attacked the 300-pound Balisok.

Thompson was shot four times in the back of the head while the two wrestled, Balisok claimed.

In the jury room the jurors re-enacted the struggle as it was described by Balisok and found it to be unlikely, if not impossible.

Last January, two of three Appeals Court justices who heard Balisok's appeal, William Baker and Faye Kennedy, found the jury's action constituted unrebutted evidence. Justice Marshall Forrest dissented.

King County deputy prosecutor Mike Hogan said Balisok lived under the assumed name of "Ricky Wetta" for 12 years to elude fraud indictments in Alabama.

Prosecutors alleged Balisok tried to kill Thompson because Thompson had helped Balisok in an arson scheme to collect insurance money. Balisok was allegedly concerned Thompson would testify against him.

Balisok was eventually acquitted of the arson charge but is serving a 20-year sentence for trying to kill Thompson.

Copyright (c) 1994 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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