Jury recommends life without parole for James Harrison Jr. - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Jury unanimously recommends life without parole for James Harrison Jr.

James Harrison. James Harrison.
RUSSELL COUNTY, AL (WTVM) -

James Harrison Jr.'s retrial has reached its near conclusion as the jury decided to recommend life in prison without the possibility of parole for the convicted murder. 

The 56-year-old man faced the court a second time for the 1998 violent death of Fred Day Jr.

Harrison was found guilty for the crime in 2001 and sentenced to death, but was granted a retrial due to juror misconduct.

Now, he is once again guilty of capital murder and first degree robbery, only this time, all 12 jurors voted to sentence Harrison to life in prison without parole.

"The family is obviously very happy," said defense attorney Walter Gray. "They may not get Harrison back home, but they felt good, because he doesn't have to get the death penalty."

District Attorney Ken Davis said the victim's family seemed disappointed with Harrison's sentence.

"We respect the hard work and the decision made by the jury in this sentencing recommendation phase," Davis said. "But we were disappointed in the jury's recommendation. We tried this case 16 years ago, and the recommendation from the jury was the death penalty back then."

Davis said retrying old cases can be difficult and frustrating.

"We had to find witnesses and evidence on a case that happened 16 years ago," Davis said. "I've had to retry a couple of cases in the 37 years I've been a prosecutor, so they are difficult. However, the evidence in this case spoke for itself."

The process is not quite over yet. Harrison's final sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 22, 2014, when the judge will make the final decision on which sentence Harrison will receive.

"I think the family intends to make statements to the court, and we may present some evidence at the same," Davis explained. "We will certainly argue for him on behalf of the death penalty. However, that decision is entirely in the hands of the judge."

"For us to have a 12-0 verdict for life without the possibility of parole...I can't imagine under these circumstances they would grant the judicial override and impose the dealt penalty," Gray explained. "The judge can still make a decision. But I don't think there is enough evidence outside of what has already been heard before the jury. Everything has been heard, and the jury made a decision."

Gray said Harrison looked relieved and please with the sentence recommendation.

"The family members were excited, and I think Harrison was happy too," Gray said. "He was quietly happy. This was a long road for him, it's been 17 years, and he's been on death row for all those years. Obviously, it's a huge relief for him."

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