A week after going on trial on charges that he killed a man in a botched holdup and tried to kill another, Juvon C. Harris was found guilty Monday by a Baltimore County Circuit Court jury of all eight counts against him, including first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder.
Harris, 28, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole when he is sentenced July 30 by Judge John O. Hennegan, who presided over the trial. Prosecutors dropped their earlier intention to seek the death penalty for Harris, who was seen in a surveillance video fleeing the parking lot of Woodlawn's Windsor Inn early on July 1, 2007, immediately after two men had been shot there.
The scene was a frightening one. Harris approached the two victims in the parking lot, instructing them to get on the ground. He then pushed the gun into the face of Howard L. Hamlin hard enough to leave marks. Hamlin reacted, perhaps instinctively, by "slapping" the gun away, in his own words. It went off grazing his head and instantly killing his friend, Taavon J. Chambers.
The reason the prosecutors agreed not to pursue the death penalty was unclear. Could it have been the question of intent? Do you think Harris may have accidentally fired the guy when it was pushed away by Hamlin? Could that affect the outcome of the trial?
In a case like this it's impossible to tell whether Harris was going to pull the trigger at that very moment or if the swiping at the gun by the victim caused it to fire. Do you think it matters? I do. I think we need to give people the benefit of the doubt in all cases. Isn't that what "reasonable doubt" means? What's your opinion?
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