Jury dismisses first-degree murder
in Lashuan Harris trial
By Brent Begin, Bay City News Service
January 9, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - The jury in the trial of LaShuan
Harris ruled out first-degree murder today, which means earlier
guilty verdicts for three counts of assault on a child causing
death will mandate the stiffest sentence.
The Superior Court jury is still deciding whether Harris, who
is accused of murdering her three children by throwing them into
the San Francisco Bay, is guilty of second degree murder or manslaughter
In either case, however, the penalties are far less than the
sentence for assault on a child causing death, which makes Harris
eligible for 25 years to life in prison for each of her three
children that died in the cold current on the evening of Oct.
Harris smiled along with attorney Teresa Caffese, chief attorney
for the public defender's office, as the court read the jury's
decision that the deaths of Harris' three children were not cold-blooded
"As I've said all along, my client is mentally ill,"
"She needs help. She needs to be in a hospital."
Once the jury has decided on those final counts, a second phase
of the trial will begin in which a jury will decide if Harris
should be sent to prison or a mental institution, according to
the district attorney's office.
The jury is expected to continue deliberating into the afternoon
on the lesser homicide charges. Special circumstances of multiple
murder do not apply to second-degree murder charges.
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