Testimony continues in the Harris murder trial

May 11, 2022 | Courts

By SHARON ROWEN | © www.kaynewscow.com

NEWKIRK — Members of the Ponca City police and fire departments testified Wednesday about the day they responded to the home of Jerry and Linda Harris on west Liberty Street in 2020.

Jerry Louis Harris, 68, is charged in Kay County District Court with first degree murder, deliberate intent, in the strangulation death of Linda on July 17, 2020.

PCPD Sgt. Jared Gray testified that when he arrived at the Harris home, he was greeted by Jerry who invited him in.

In addition to his testimony, Gray’s body cam footage of the incident was aired for the court.

“He put his hands behind his back and invited me to handcuff him,” said Gray. “I saw a body on the floor and asked him who it was.”

“That is my wife. I killed the bitch. She needed to freaking die,” replied Harris. 

Gray said Harris’ demeanor was calm and that he did not seem agitated.

“I asked him where the weapon was and he told me his hands were the weapons,” said Gray.

Gray testified that Linda was on the floor lifeless.  “There was a pair of dentures and eye glasses near her and a crushed water bottle under her right arm,” he said.

“I asked Harris if he strangled her and he said yes,” testified Gray.

Body cam footage showed Gray walking Harris outside to a patrol car when one of Harris’ relatives drove up and asked if she could bond him out.

Harris replied, “I hope she is dead. You don’t need to bond me out. I don’t freaking have a life anymore.”

The Jerry and Linda Harris home the day of Linda’s death.

Jerry’s friend Greg Teasley also showed up. Police later learned that Harris called his sister and Teasley after strangling Linda and before he called 911.

Two members of the Ponca City Fire EMS crew testified about attempting lifesaving acts on Linda and transporting her to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Capt. David Dick said he believes she had been down for close to 15 minutes before help arrived. Both said she showed no signs of life before and after treatment.

PCPD Lt. Steven Yinger testified about conducting a search warrant at the Harris home. He said no illegal drugs or paraphernalia were found.

PCPD Lt. Josh Henderson testified about the calls on Harris’ phone. He said the calls made to the relative and to Teasley lasted about 80 seconds.

Denise Gibbs testified that she was a close friend to Linda and that one day while on the phone with her, she heard a slap noise followed by Jerry saying, ‘Now tell Denise that I hit you.’

Gibbs told the court that she saw signs of domestic violence but never reported it to the police.

Assistant District Attorney Shawna Taylor asked Gibbs if she ever saw physical signs of abuse and Gibbs replied, “I can’t say that I did.” 

Gibbs told the court that Linda confided in her that she was scared of getting sick and being in a wheel chair again. “She was afraid Jerry would push her in a room and leave her. The sad part is she loved him,” said Gibbs.

Gibbs told the court that she helped Linda move out about three months before her death. However Linda returned to Harris’ home.  “We weren’t speaking at the time of her death because of the move,” said Gibbs.

Harris’ defense attorney Thomas Griesedieck cross examined Gibbs about her criminal background. She admitted that she has cocaine, firearm, and larceny charges and that she has smoked pot with Linda.

Prosecutors pointed out that Gibbs’ prior convictions are separate issues from the Harris murder case.

Former PCPD Det. Shane Pruett testified about interviewing Harris and video of the interview was shown.

In the video, Harris is shown sitting on a stool in an interview room with his head buried in his hands waiting for Pruett to enter.

After being read his rights, Harris agrees to talk.

“During the last three months my wife turned into a freaking bitch,” states Harris.

Harris told the detective that for nearly three decades he and Linda had an on and off relationship.

“She would move in and move out and I would let it go. She would move back in and back out and I would let it go. This time I married the bitch. I have been retired for one year and it has been a living freaking hell. She did a flip flop and started running around with crack heads and lost her car. I saw the change in her. She cleaned out my bank account. I had $190,000 in it. I must have snapped. She kept poking the bear. She told me I wasn’t going to have anything when she was done with me. I don’t deserve this. I must have blacked out. I hope she is dead so she can’t do this to anyone else. I choked her for five minutes. Then I came back to myself. She caused this. I am not a violent person. I’m sorry I did it but I couldn’t take it anymore.”

Harris then breaks down in tears and tells Pruett that he worked for the City of Ponca City for 45 years and has always been a law abiding citizen.

“I couldn’t take it anymore,” he states. “Now look at me. I’m freaking crying. She threatened me. I told her to get out and she would say she would leave when she was ready. She was going to do it to me real good this time and I snapped. She called that Tipton guy over to piss me off. I was enraged. It ain’t right. Women get away with crap like this. We need to freaking change the laws.”

Griesedieck asked Pruett if he has taken a murder confession since the one given by Harris to which Pruett replied no. Griesedieck said that most murder confessions do not take 12 minutes or less and Pruett agreed.

District Attorney Brian Hermanson asked Pruett if he thought Harris was crying because of the situation he was in and Pruett replied, “I believe so.”

Testimony continues Thursday with the state medical examiner taking the stand.

See related stories

Court date set for murder suspect

Bond lowered in murder case

Harris murder trial begins

Latest Headlines
Legal Headlines
Story Comments

Story comments are disabled for launch. Feel free to visit our Facebook page or Twitter profile to interact with other readers.