State Parole Board Member Votes No on Parole for Albert Fisher, Jr. in Voluntary Manslaughter Case (View Video Here)

March 14, 2023
By: Dwayne Page

Another eighteen months!

(Click link below to listen to WJLE audio recording of the parole hearing)

Audio of Hearing

That’s how long 54-year-old Albert Wayne Fisher, Jr. may have to wait before being granted another parole hearing. Fisher has served at least fourteen months of a six year sentence for voluntary manslaughter in the fatal 2019 Halloween shooting of his stepson, 38 year old Tyler Durden outside the Fisher home on Eckles Heights in Liberty.

Fisher’s first parole hearing was held on Tuesday, March 14 at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville where he is incarcerated. Parole Board Chairman Richard Montgomery, who presided over the hearing, heard from Fisher as well as three supporters including his mother, and several family members along with the District Attorney General’s Office who are opposed to Fisher’s early release. Assistant DA Greg Strong participated in the hearing by video conference from Cookeville. Support and opposition letters were also in Fisher’s file.

At the conclusion of the hearing, Chairman Montgomery, the only parole board member participating, said his vote is not to recommend parole at this time. Montgomery’s decision is not final. Four concurring Board member votes are needed to reach a final decision for this particular case. “I have made my decision in this case. I will send it (case file) to the other board members. They will review everything and then vote. When there are four like votes, then we will inform everyone of the final result which usually takes 7-10 days”, said Montgomery.

If the board denies Fisher, his next opportunity for parole will be in September 2024.

Fisher stood trial on November 17, 2021 on a charge of second-degree murder which carries a range of punishment as a Class A felony of 15-25 years, but the jury found him guilty of the lesser crime of voluntary manslaughter. The shooting occurred outside Fisher’s home on Eckles Heights in Liberty. Two months later, Fisher was given the maximum prison term of six years for the crime by Judge Wesley Bray following a sentencing hearing in DeKalb County Criminal Court.

Fisher admitted firing the fatal shot but said he did it in self-defense because he felt threatened by the victim not knowing it was his stepson because he was wearing a Halloween disguise and never uttered a word. After the shooting, Durden was taken to Vanderbilt Hospital where he later died.

Durden was a drill sergeant and a 19-year veteran of the US Army. He held the rank of Sergeant First Class. State prosecutors believe that several hours before the murder Durden had decided to come to Liberty to surprise his mother on Halloween night after returning from a deployment overseas. He was unarmed.

During Tuesday’s parole hearing, Fisher said he regrets his actions and is sorry for the pain and hurt it has caused.

“I panicked and fear took over,” said Fisher. “I made a bad judgment that night to defend my wife, myself, and my home with my firearm that I was licensed to carry at the time. That bad judgment turned out to be the worst decision I ever made in my life because it would take the life of who I would later learn to be my wife’s 38 year old son Tyler Durden and that haunts me every day of my life. It traumatized me. I know there are a lot of lives that’s been impacted and it has strained my wife’s relationships with our family, her family mostly. I just want to say I am sorry to all those who have been impacted by my actions. I am so sorry it ever happened. I will forever regret the pain and hurt that I have caused so many people,” Fisher said.

Parole Board Chairman Montgomery asked Fisher to recall how the shooting occurred.

“October 31, 2019 I encountered a very intense situation at my home that was uncertain which evolved very rapidly. There was a man standing on my front porch wearing a pullover mask like in the movie Scream. I could see him through the window and he was either beating or kicking at my door so furiously that it knocked the pictures off my living room wall and broke them. I opened the door and he was on the sidewalk. I asked my next door neighbor who had had been beating on my door so hard and she pointed him out to me. I asked him not to disrespect my house and he came toward me making hand gestures. He didn’t speak. He only made hand gestures as if to say “come on” and he used his index finger to point toward his chest and head. He kept coming at me and I gave him multiple warnings not to come any closer but he kept approaching,” said Fisher.

According to Fisher, he and Tyler’s mother had been married only eight months at the time of the shooting and that he really didn’t know Tyler well. Fisher claims the two of them spoke only briefly on two occasions prior to the shooting, once at the funeral of a relative and another time during a family Christmas gathering.

According to his record, Fisher has had no write-ups while in prison and other than this voluntary manslaughter crime, Fisher has had no prior felonies or misdemeanors. His current custody level is minimum restricted. During his time in prison, Fisher has participated in educational and instructional programs including one called “Career Management for Success” in which he is expected to graduate at the top of his class next week. He also serves as a Braille typist in prison. His job is to transcribe English print to Braille for school textbooks to benefit blind children. If paroled, Fisher said he planned to reside in Carthage with his wife.

Fisher’s mother, Shirley was among three people at the hearing to speak on behalf of her son.

“I am here in support of Albert being released on parole,” she said. “I also want to send my sympathy to Tyler Durden’s family. My heart goes out to them. I too have lost a son. He died in 2018 to cancer and my husband died of a heart attack in 2015. I know their pain. I am here to say that I will support Albert and his wife in any way I can. We all need each other to make it through this as a family. I am a widow and I need my son Albert. He is the only family I have close to help me. I am 72 years old. Albert’s wife has macular degeneration. She is legally blind and can no longer drive. I help her on the weekends. She needs Albert. She would be here today but she didn’t have the right ID to get in here and she is upset about that. Albert always mowed my yard and trimmed my trees and if I ever had any problem in the house he would fix it. He always called everyday to see if I needed anything. He would take me to the doctor when I couldn’t drive and he would take me to church on Sunday. I need Albert. There is an empty spot in church where he played his guitar and sang. The church needs Albert. I love and need my son,” said Ms. Fisher.

Fisher’s prison mentor since January, Charles Hooks also spoke in favor of parole as did Todd Victor, a certified mentor of Tennessee Prison Outreach Ministries.

“Albert has above average intelligence and common sense. In my career as a banker for years, Albert is the type of person I would hire. He is level headed The unfortunate crime that he committed has weighed heavy on his heart and soul as he struggles daily with the loss of his stepson. He has expressed to me many times his regret of that action. Albert would be a good citizen of any community. He appears to be respectful and is respected by both inmates and prison guards and officials. I think he should be granted parole,” said Hooks.

“Through mentoring New Life Behavior classes and in private and public conversations, I have come to know Mr. Fisher,” said Victor. “You have institutional documentation describing Albert’s behavior since he has been incarcerated but what these documents can never reveal is who Albert has become in these last 1230 days. He has completed state mandated classes and he has been attending my New Life Behavior classes along with other self-improvement classes during his trek on personal reclamation. Albert deserves an opportunity for societal redemption. I don’t fear Albert and I would not stand for him if I believed his release wound unleash the hounds of hell on the residents of Tennessee. I only request that the parole board grant Albert an opportunity for societal redemption. Putting Albert off for another year or longer will not make him any more redeemable nor will it bring peace to the hearts of those who stand in opposition. Only God can release them from their anger and grief. Albert’s redemption is in God’s hands. Albert’s release to parole is within your (parole board’s) prudent discretion. I humbly ask Mr. Montgomery that you grant Albert parole,” said Victor.

Nine members of Durden’s family in opposition to parole for Fisher appeared at the hearing including Kaylee Allen, Jessica Anderson, Ed Nokes, Charlotte Nokes, MyKenzie Wilson, LeAnna McDonald, Tonya Cantrell, Charlotte Parsley, and Lori Truax and many of them addressed Chairman Montgomery.

Durden’s cousin Kaylee Allen read a statement prepared by Durden’s sister Jessica Anderson who became too emotional to speak during the parole hearing.

“It has been 1,229 days since we lost (Tyler) but only 642 of those days has Fisher served for his murder. Tyler gave 19 years of his life serving his country in the United State Army. Tyler was a force for everything that is good in this world. Tyler loved and served his country and his family. His life and smile are something we miss so very much. Tyler was so passionate about all the things he loved and believed in. His passion was strong and evident. Tyler was the kind of person you could depend on for the truth. He was full of life, love, and light. On October 31, 2019, (Fisher) took that away from us. He took Tyler from me, his family, his daughter, and his friends. He recklessly and senselessly took my brother’s life. My life has been shattered. Fisher has never shown one bit of regret or remorse for what he has done nor has he apologized for these actions. Anything he shows today would be self serving. He took from us a loving, honorable, law-abiding citizen who had just weeks prior returned from another deployment protecting people. Tyler risked his life only to come home to be murdered on his mother’s front porch. No amount of time he (Fisher) serves would be enough but I feel this (642 days) has not served justice for Tyler. That’s absurd. Fisher’s actions took more than Tyler’s life. My family and I will forever be scared by this,” said Allen.

Durden’s girlfriend Lori Truax also spoke during the hearing.

“On November 18, 2011, my friends took me out for my birthday, and little did I know I would meet the person who would change my life. A year previous, my husband of twenty years passed away. I never thought I would ever date again, let alone meet someone like Tyler. In true Tyler fashion he would not stay away and I finally gave in and went out with him. He made sure he was such a big presence in all our lives. He tried to be the tough soldier that everyone knows but the Tyler I knew was sweet and romantic and he would do anything for me. He said I had experienced enough sadness to last a lifetime and he wanted to make sure I never felt that way again. He made me believe in love again. I never thought that was possible. He was there for me every time I needed him. I never had any doubt he loved me. I am not sure I will ever recover from the pain of losing him. I miss him with every breath I breathe. I never got a goodbye. He was just gone. Grief such as this is so crushing. Loving Tyler changed my life. It should come as no surprise that losing him has too,” said Truax.

Assistant District Attorney General Greg Strong, who was the lead prosecutor in the case, appealed to the parole board to deny Fisher’s petition for early release.

“Fisher says he was in fear for himself because of a loud knock at his front door but both eyewitnesses testified at trial that Durden was walking away when Fisher called him back. The fatal shot was taken at a distance of over ten feet from an elevated position. Fisher was standing on the porch at the top of the steps and Durden was at the bottom on the sidewalk. Fisher says since the shooting this has haunted him, that he used bad judgment, and that he has been traumatized. This is the third time I have heard him say that and its no more true today than it was then. A jury found him guilty and a judge sentenced him in the face of what he said and I submit to this parole panel that Fisher is no more remorseful today than he was then because he continues to talk about his license to carry. Within minutes after the fatal shot was fired a detective who was in the area arrived at the scene at which time Mr Fisher put the gun down and handed the detective a card from a concealed carry association. In the state’s view Fisher thought this gave him a license to kill. He still mentions it today at this parole hearing. His first option was the gun. There was no attempt to de-escalate the situation. Were he truly afraid, Fisher could have gone back inside his home. I don’t see any remorse here and I submit to the parole panel that he has shown none. To allow parole at this early stage of the game, lessens the seriousness of that offense in the community. I ask that the statements that the victim’s family have made here today be taken to heart. I ask the board to deny parole,” said Assistant DA Strong.

When asked by Parole Board Chairman Montgomery why he should be granted parole, Fisher said he wants to be able to rejoin his wife and help support her. ”I want an opportunity to be the loving, caring, and providing husband my wife so much deserves. I have asked my wife to forgive me and for God to forgive me. I am so grateful that she (wife) has been able to do that but I’ll have to look in her eyes for the rest of my life knowing I was responsible for taking her son. The results of my actions have made it heavier (more difficult) for her as she has tried to keep up our home and finances. I am deeply sorry and regret the hurt I have caused this family. The only thing I can do now to be accountable is to try to be a positive impact on my community,” said Fisher.

Parole Board Chairman Montgomery then delivered his decision.

“These are very difficult cases because we have lost a life of a very special person to a lot of people here today and their lives are going to be affected forever. Whenever you do something like this, you go to court and get sentenced and have to serve time. I truly don’t believe you have served enough time for this crime at this point. I do want to say though that I think you are doing what you should be doing in the way you are serving the time, the programming you are taking, and no write-ups. I want to commend you for that. That doesn’t happen a lot with people in prison. I want you to continue on in that way. I just feel like for a loss of life, you have not paid your due for that yet so I am going to put you off for a year and a half. If you keep doing what you are supposed to be doing your chances will be a lot greater at that time,” said Parole Board Chairman Montgomery.

Audio of Hearing