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CORRECTION: Jury selection to begin for repeat Harris trial


The story in the Dec. 4 issue titled “Jury selection to begin for repeat Harris trial” contains information regarding a criminal simulation charge against former Sheriff Kent Harris that The Erwin Record would like to clarify.

The Erwin Record was unaware of information provided by Harris to the office on Dec. 4.
Harris submitted to The Erwin Record transcripts of the court proceedings during which the charge for criminal simulation was addressed by Honorable Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood.
After attorney’s approached the bench on July 30, the transcript states Blackwood said, “After review last night I don’t believe the state has sustained that count. We’ll move — I grant your motion for directed verdict on criminal simulation.”
After the jury was notified the transcript also states Blackwood said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, the court as a matter of law has directed a verdict in favor of the defendant on that charge. He’s not — he is not — the court has granted a directed verdict. He is not charged with Criminal Simulation. You will not be considering that charge.”

The Erwin Record regrets this error.

Below is the corrected article.

The initial phase of selecting a jury to hear one of four total trials set against former Unicoi County Sheriff Kent Harris will begin Dec. 10 at 9 a.m. in Unicoi County Criminal Court. Unicoi County Circuit Court Clerk Darren Shelton said it may be Tuesday before any testimony is heard.
The case for the charge of theft over $1,000 is being tried again after a mistrial was declared in the first hearing, which began July 30 and ended on Aug. 2.
The jury voted 11-1 to acquit Harris of the theft charge after about three hours of deliberation, however, state District Attorney Tony Clark requested to try the case again.
According to count seven of the indictment, on or about Sept. 23, 2008, Harris allegedly “exercised control” over $4,500 that is believed by the state to have belonged to the county.
The offense is a class D felony with a maximum penalty of 2-12 years in prison.
Harris was indicted by a Unicoi County Grand Jury on 10 felony charges on Oct. 14, 2011.
The charges currently being tried are two of 11 total charges against Harris.

The overall charges include attempted aggravated assault, tampering with evidence, theft over $1,000 and seven counts of official misconduct.
The last charge of official misconduct was handed down on Feb. 16 by a Unicoi County Grand Jury.
The last charge came down about a week after a preliminary hearing during which Harris pleaded not guilty to the original 10 felony charges.

By Kayla Carter
Staff Writer
[email protected]