Chief Medical Examiner testifies at Harris murder trial; Harris waives right to take the stand

May 12, 2022 | Courts


NEWKIRK — Oklahoma Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Eric Pfeifer testified Thursday in Kay County District Court that an autopsy shows that 55-year-old Linda Jones Harris death is a homicide and that she died of strangulation on July 17, 2020.

Linda’s husband, Jerry Louis Harris, 68, is charged with first degree murder, deliberate intent.

Pfeifer testified that he performed the autopsy on Linda and that she had multiple abrasions on the neck, soft tissue bleeding, bruises on both legs, elbow, forearm and a soft tissue hemorrhage on the scalp.

Pfeifer said he also found evidence of recent methamphetamine use.

Becky Fields, who is lives next door to the Harris home, testified that she was a friend and neighbor to Jerry and Linda and that she never saw physical altercations between the two but sometimes would hear arguing.

“The voice I would hear was Linda’s. She was the loudest,” said Fields. “A lot of the time the arguing would go on and then I would see Jerry get on his motorcycle or in his truck and leave.”

She testified that she did not see personality changes in Jerry but did see changes in Linda’s behavior. 

“She became erratic in what she was doing and her conversations were all over the place. There were times I didn’t think she had taken a shower and she would avoid eye contact.”

Fields said that Linda once told her she was using methadone and Percocet.

Fields testified the last time she saw Linda was about 10 a.m. on the morning of her death.

“She came over and said she was moving out on Saturday and that she couldn’t leave before that because those helping her were in school on Friday,” said Fields.

District Attorney Brian Hermanson asked Fields if she ever observed anything that justified Linda being killed and Fields replied, “No.”

Hermanson called Det. Dana Fisher of the Ponca City Police Department to the stand as a rebuttal witness.

Fisher testified that he interviewed neighbors including Fields the day of the murder. Fisher said that Fields told him that she didn’t think Jerry had an aggressive bone in his body and that she had never seen them argue or anything.

Harris’ defense attorney Thomas Griesedieck asked Fisher if police have forms for witnesses to fill out. Fisher said they did but that they were not used that day.

“You didn’t ask Mrs. Fields if Linda was on drugs, did you,” asked Griesedieck. “No, replied Fisher.

Hermanson called a second rebuttal witness to the stand, Sara Palmer, victim witness coordinator fo the D.A’s office.

Palmer testified that when Fields received a subpoena to testify, she called the district attorney’s office and said she did not want to do so.

“She told me she had no information for the court and that Jerry and Linda were good neighbors,” said Palmer.

Griesedieck asked if the call was recorded and Palmer said no.

Harris then waived his right to take the stand. He was sworn in by Judge David Bandy and confirmed to the court that after discussions with his attorney he had decided not to take the stand.

Closing arguments will be given on Friday and the case sent to the jury. If convicted Harris could face life with out parole.

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