Columbus man makes a deal in connection with mother's death - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Columbus man makes a deal in connection with mother's death

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

After six years of waiting, a Columbus family said they finally got the closure they desperately needed.

"Before he killed her I begged and I pleaded for her to go next door, 'please go next door to the neighbor because he's going to hurt you'," family member Minnie Moore said during the hearing.

Moore, who we're told is the cousin of the victim, sobbed as she recalled the last conversation she had with 62-year-old Lorraine Street, just moments before her son took her life.
     
Derrick Harris' family said it was the first time they saw him since he stabbed his mother to death on December 11, 2008.      

"He knew what he was doing! We just want Justice for her. She deserves justice. It's been six years," Moore added. 
 
He was initially charged with murder and armed robbery for allegedly taking his mother's cellphone. 

"In this case the evidence lacked the malice, or premeditation that you typically see in a murder case. We have sought the plea to manslaughter for quite some time," Harris' attorney Chief Assistant Public Defender Stephen Craft said.

Harris pleaded guilty to lesser charges of Voluntary Manslaughter and Possession of a knife during the commission of a crime Tuesday morning. He was sentenced to 20 years for manslaughter and an additional five years for the possession charge. With credit for time served, Harris will serve at least another 19 years.
    
The case has gone unindicted since Harris was arrested and jailed on December 13, 2008. Harris has remained behind bars. Craft said it was the oldest case remaining at the county jail. 

"One of the additional tragedies in this case in addition to the one that he killed his mother is the fact that it took so long to come to some finality. The state simply has not indicted the case, or moved on it at this point,"

In April, Muscogee Superior Court Judge Frank Jordan Jr. requested an update on the status of the case, according to Craft.  

"The state agreed to act on the case, but only after several years have passed. He has accepted his responsibility for this from the beginning," Craft added.

The often times violent relationship between mother and son became deadly In December 2008.

"She had been abused over a period of time. She had been beaten and slapped around. You don't do that to your mother," the victim's brother Eddie Harris said after the hearing.

Police say while highly intoxicated, Harris stabbed his mother once in the right arm and once in the torso. The knife struck a main artery in her arm, according to Senior Assistant District Attorney Robert Bickerstaff. 

She died inside the Claussen Drive home she shared with her 42-year-old son. Street had retired from the Holiday Inn and lived on Social Security grew tired of his dependency, according to her family.
     
"The defendant was abusing her hospitality. He was 42- years-old at the time and they felt like he should be helping out with the expenses and the rent," Bickerstaff said during the hearing.

"He felt entitled that she would take care of him for the rest of her life," Harris said.

Eddie Harris said he believed his plans to help his sister sparked the deadly attack.

"We were going to move her to Peachtree City and put an end to that. When he got wind of that, I don't think it helped him to help my sister when she needed help," Eddie Harris said. "If it was an accident, he had the opportunity to try to get some help for her while she bled out on the steps and he didn't take that opportunity".

Harris' attorney Stephen Craft said psychological evaluations also held up the process. He claimed Harris suffered from mental health issues stemming from a fight he had that also caused him to lose his eye.

The evaluation found Harris was competent to stand trial, and knew right from wrong when the crime was committed. 

Craft says he did express remorse.
 
"He understands he's responsible and he's extremely sorry for what happened. I mean, it's his mother," Craft said.

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