Harris sentenced to 25 years in prison in murder case

July 26, 2022 | Courts|Featured

By SHARON ROWEN | © www.kaynewscow.com

NEWKIRK — Former Ponca City resident Jerry Harris, 68, was sentenced to 25 years in prison today by Judge David Bandy for the July 17, 2020 murder of 55-year-old Linda Jones Harris.

Linda was found strangled to death by Ponca City police at the couple’s Ponca City home.

Harris admitted to police that he killed her and was originally charged in Kay County District Court with first degree murder.

Today during a sentencing hearing, District Attorney Brian Hermanson told the court that he believes the jury recommended a low sentence.

“But they did what they did and the court should honor the jury’s determination,” said Hermanson. He asked the court to award Linda’s family restitution in the amount of $7,266.50 to cover funeral costs. “Obviously there is a much larger loss to the family but we feel that this needs to be addressed.” Hermanson asked the court to order Harris to attend anger management classes if he is released from prison.

“It is possible he could be released for humanitarian reasons or live long enough to be released. The classes could help make sure this never happens again. My hope is that he is not released from prison.”

District Attorney Victim Witness Advocate, Sara Palmer, read two victim impact statements from family members who did not attend the sentencing.

Linda’s sister, Hazel Osborn, wrote about a sister’s love and how it is unconditional and that her sister should have been there until the end of time.

Linda’s daughter, Chelsea Owens wrote about how July 17, 2020 has changed her life and the lives of her family forever.

She wrote that there is no way to measure the pain that has been inflicted by the horrific death of her mother and that the images of taking her kids to the cemetery is etched in her mind forever.

“No sentence can give our family what we want, which is to have my mother back,” she wrote.

Tracey Housley, Linda’s sister, appeared in person and told the court that Linda was her shadow while growing up.

She said the two had a difficult relationship in recent times and that she had hoped to work on repairing the damage. “You took that opportunity away from me Jerry,” she said while looking at Harris. She said her sister’s death has devastated her as she held up photos of her and Linda. “I thought we could grow old together. She trusted you Jerry. If she was on life support you were going to be the one to look out for her.”

Hermanson told the court that the jury’s decision must be respected and reminded the court that Linda died begging for her life.

Harris’ defense attorney Thomas Griesedieck, told the court that Harris did not wish to address the court.

Griesedieck suggested that the jury did not want Harris to spend the rest of his life in prison, therefore being the reason they did not choose a life sentence. “I think the jury is telling the court that we want him to have the chance to get out.”

Griesedieck asked the court to suspend a portion of the sentence.

Hermanson said on the surface Harris may look like a model citizen. “ But we need to remember that he is convicted of a brutal murder.

Judge Bandy then levied a 25 year prison sentence on Harris and ordered $7,266.50 in restitution to be paid. Harris must also attend anger management and domestic classes both in prison and upon release.

Harris must serve at least 20 years before being eligible for parole. He has 10 days to appeal the decision.

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