Convicted murderer gets new trial in Russell County

PHENIX CITY, AL (WTVM) - James Harrison Jr was convicted of brutally murdering Thomas Fred Day Jr in January of 1998.

In 2001, Harrison was sentenced to death in Russell County Circuit Court. In a bizarre twist, Harrison's attorney motioned the Alabama Supreme Court for a retrial… and it was granted, based on what the Russell County District attorney's office tells us was juror misconduct.

On News Leader 9's first day in the court room, cameras were not allowed, but we did take notes.

A video taped interview dated for January 19 1998 showed Harrison admitting that the victim punched him after Harrison returned to the house without drugs.

Harrison told investigators he pulled a knife out of his pocket and cut Day's throat, but claims he had no idea it was bad enough to kill him.

Witnesses and attorney went on to reveal that The next day, Harrison used Day's car to go pawn more than $200 worth of CDs. A medical examiner with the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, out of Montgomery, testified that Day's cause of death was a crushed voice box and a deep incision around his neck, running almost from ear-to-ear.

Harrison admitted to being with and knowing the victim and initially told investigators that he and Day had drank together before.

Loved ones of both the victim and the accused were in the court room as graphic autopsy and investigation photos were introduced to the brand new jury tonight.

Court has wrapped for the day. The trial is expected to pick back up at 9 a.m. Friday morning.

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