Eyewitness testifies in Harris murder trial
By Brent Begin, Bay City News Service
November 28, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - An eyewitness and the first arriving
officer both testified Monday for the prosecution in the murder
trial of LaShuan Harris, who is accused of willfully throwing
her three children in the San Francisco Bay.
Yashpal Singh said he was at the end of San Francisco's Pier
7 when Harris, 24, undressed her 6-year-old son, grabbed him by
one foot and a leg, and then swung him over a railing into the
chilly current below.
Singh said he walked away after Harris began undressing her 2-year-old
son. He said the children were screaming, "No mommy, no mommy!"
"I kind of became concerned about my kids," said Singh,
who had been walking in the area with his own two children. "I
couldn't make up my mind, and I decided to call for help."
Singh then testified that he called 911 and waited in a nearby
restaurant for the police to arrive. The first officers to arrive
were Officer Michael White and his partner.
White testified that he told Singh to get into their patrol car
and drove to the end of the pier. Halfway down, however, they
ran into Harris, walking alone and pushing a stroller full of
According to White, when asked where her babies were, Harris
responded, "They're with their father."
White, who has nine years of experience in scuba rescue in the
Bay, said he checked the water after he realized the children
He said there were "white caps," the water was "very
rough" and the "tide was going out at a very fast pace."
Only one child's body, that of 2-year-old Taronta Greely Jr.,
was discovered. Police believe Trayshawn Harris, 6, and 16-month-old
Joshua Greely drowned.
Earlier Monday, both prosecution and defense delivered their
opening statements to the jury.
Teresa Caffese, chief attorney for the San Francisco public defender's
office, told jurors Harris has an extensive history of mental
illness -- including six mandatory hospitalizations within two
years -- and she received commands from God and often spoke of
Earlier this morning, Assistant District Attorney Linda Allen
told the jury that they would no doubt feel sympathy for Harris,
because of her youth and history of mental illness.
But Allen also told the jury of four women and eight men they
would still find that Harris was fully aware of her actions when
she undressed her three children, one by one, and threw them into
the Bay on the evening of Oct. 19, 2005.
"You will be asked to answer one question: which of society's
laws are violated when a mother kills her children?" said
Allen, who added that the murders were willful, deliberate and
Caffese did not dispute the prosecution's claim that Harris threw
the children into the Bay. She did, however, illustrate the long
history of the defendant's mandatory hospitalization and family
According to Caffese, Harris's problems stem from an inborn mental
illness that had remained latent up until her teenage years when
she was raped and beaten by Taronta Greely, the father of all
The day she killed the boys, Caffese said, Harris was in a sort
of stupor as she took her children by Bay Area Rapid Transit from
Oakland, where they lived at a Salvation Army shelter, to the
San Francisco waterfront.
Harris fed her children and watched them play, but she never
seemed to enjoy it despite a beautiful day on the Embarcadero.
She walked around pacing with a "blank look" on her
face, Caffese said.
Allen did not dispute the defense claim that Harris was guided
by voices from God, but she did argue that Harris was lucid and
aware of her surroundings as she was arrested and later interviewed
by San Francisco police homicide inspectors.
"She's not so mentally ill that she didn't know what she
was doing," said Allen, who added that Harris repeatedly
said, "It's my life or the kids."
Allen is expected to continue her case tomorrow at 10 a.m. in
department 26 in the Hall of Justice. Superior Court Judge Ksenia
Tsenin is presiding over the case.
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