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KYRIAN KNOX: Illinois vs. Kamel Harris for murder and dismemberment of 2-year-old *NOT GUILTY*

Discussion in 'Courtroom' started by SheWhoMustNotBeNamed, Sep 21, 2015.

  1. SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

    SheWhoMustNotBeNamed Administrator Staff Member

    Trial begins for man charged with dismembering 2-year-old found in Garfield Park Lagoon

    The man who allegedly murdered a 2-year-old boy and dismembered his body went on trial on Tuesday.

    Kamel Harris is accused of killing Kyrian Knox, of Rockford, back in August 2015. Jury selection was completed on Monday.

    Paradise likes this.
  2. SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

    SheWhoMustNotBeNamed Administrator Staff Member

    Prosecution rests in trial of man charged with killing, dismembering 2-year-old Kyrian Knox

    Despite reaching out to prosecutors to offer incriminating information about a man accused of killing and dismembering a 2-year-old, Shardon Gay was a reluctant witness when his time came to take the stand Tuesday.

    Gay, who claimed to have heard Kamel Harris confess to the gruesome crime while they both were jailed in Rockford, tried to assert his 5th Amendment rights, delaying the trial for more than two hours Tuesday and only taking the stand after Judge Timothy Joyce threatened to hold him in contempt of court and prosecutors agreed to tell to authorities in Winnebago County about his help.

    Gay, who is serving a 28-year sentence on drug charges out of Winnebago County, was one of three former Winnebago inmates who claim to have heard Harris admit to accidentally killing 2-year-old Kyrian Knox in Rockford in 2015, then chopping up the toddler’s body and dumping it in the Garfield Park Lagoon on Chicago’s West Side.

    Harris must have suspected that Gay wasn’t a trustworthy confidant, as he drafted a handwritten non-disclosure agreement that stated he and Gay had never discussed their cases, and demanded Gay sign a copy. Gay signed, but wrote the word “forced” along with his signature.

    “I wrote ‘forced’ because I felt like he forced it on me,” Gay said.

    Prosecutors rested a largely circumstantial case against Harris after four days of testimony. Harris had been babysitting the toddler at his home in Rockford for a friend of his daughter in August 2015 while his daughter and the boy’s mother looked for an apartment in Iowa. Gay and two other former jail inmates say Harris told them he “snapped” and accidentally killed Kyrian, then disposed of the body.

    Harris’ lawyers called still another inmate to refute Gay’s testimony — David Sanders, a childhood friend of Gay’s who also was locked up in Winnebago County before pleading guilty to federal charges for robbing a bank. Gay told Sanders that he was going to make up incriminating information about Harris to get a lighter sentence, and when Sanders saw a news report that Harris had been charged, he lashed out at Gay and another snitch in the jail kitchen.

    “I snapped. I confronted him about it,” Sanders said. “I told them they made up a story.”

    The toddler’s hands, feet and head were discovered floating in the lagoon over Labor Day weekend, not long after Kyrian’s mother had dropped the child off with Harris. Harris did not report Kyrian was missing until the boy’s mother called to say she was returning to Rockford to pick him up in September.

    Harris, who is expected to testify Wednesday, told police that he turned Kyrian over in August to a man who claimed he was going to return the boy to his mother.

    Paradise and KareBear like this.
  3. SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

    SheWhoMustNotBeNamed Administrator Staff Member

    Jury acquits man of killing 2-year-old boy Kyrian Knox, dismembering body and dumping remains in Chicago lagoon

    Even for Chicago, with its endemic violence, the killing of 2-year-old Kyrian Knox stood out as among the most grisly in recent history.

    But on Thursday, a jury acquitted the 44-year-old Harris on all charges after deliberating over parts of two days. Harris, who had been charged with first-degree murder, dismemberment and concealment of a homicidal death, was expected to be released from Cook County Jail as soon as Thursday night.

    Jurors had even been given the option by Judge Timothy Joyce to instead find Harris guilty of the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter but passed on that as well.

    Earlier this year, prosecutors showed their concerns about the strength of the case by offering Harris a lenient sentence in return for pleading guilty. He was on the verge of accepting the deal before it fell through after the judge indicated he might not go along with prosecutors' recommended sentence.

    The verdict came a day after Harris, in a rather unusual move, took the witness stand in his own defense. He testified he had handed over Kyrian to three people who showed up at his residence after a woman he took to be the boy’s mother gave permission by phone to do so.

    In closing arguments Wednesday, prosecutors has ridiculed Harris' account as "ridiculous."

    "He invented this fiction because he's trying to escape responsibility for what he did to that baby in this home," Assistant State's Attorney Anastasia Harper told jurors.

    Harris' attorney, K.S. Galhotra, had repeatedly stressed to jurors, however, that no forensic evidence tied Harris to the killing and that the prosecutors' case hinged on the testimony of three “snitches” who claimed Harris confessed to them while locked up in Winnebago County Jail for an unrelated matter.

    Following Thursday’s verdict, Galhotra and co-counsel Julie Koehler, both assistant public defenders, commended the jury for not letting the emotional side of the case get in the way of the weakness of the evidence.

    Kimster and Paradise like this.
  4. SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

    SheWhoMustNotBeNamed Administrator Staff Member

  5. spike

    spike Bronze Member

    What kind of third world justice is going on in that area of our country?
    This is not okay.
    This is not normal.
    Takeitfromme, KareBear and Paradise like this.
  6. Kimster

    Kimster Director Staff Member

    How weak was the evidence?
  7. SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

    SheWhoMustNotBeNamed Administrator Staff Member

    I didn't follow closely, but several articles I've read said it was mostly circumstantial.
    I wish they would have taken the time to gather stronger evidence. DNA. Something. There had to have been something.
    Now there is no chance of a retrial. And likely no justice for Kyrian, ever.
    Kimster, KareBear, spike and 2 others like this.
  8. KareBear

    KareBear Well-Known Member

    Couldn't have said it better myself... :facepalm:
    Kimster and Paradise like this.
  9. Kimster

    Kimster Director Staff Member

    Just hope this guy stays away from other children.
    KareBear and Paradise like this.
  10. Takeitfromme

    Takeitfromme Professional Journalist/News Reporter

    Unbelievable!!! Are you effing kidding me? Not guilty? Seriously!?!?!
  11. SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

    SheWhoMustNotBeNamed Administrator Staff Member

    A man was charged with murdering and dismembering a toddler, then a jury let him go

    On the Saturday of Labor Day weekend 2015, a child’s foot was found floating in the debris at the edge of the Garfield Park Lagoon. Police vehicles descended on the busy park as families barbecued. Draining the lagoon turned up another foot, two hands and the head of 2-year-old Kyrian Knox.

    The toddler was last seen alive two weeks earlier in Rockford, where Kamel Harris had been watching Kyrian, his own son and a 2-year-old grandson. Kyrian’s mother and Harris’ daughter had left the children with Harris while they looked for jobs in Iowa.

    It would take more than a year for Harris to be charged with the child’s murder, a gruesome crime that made headlines in Rockford and Chicago.

    But the case against Harris unraveled over two weeks in a cramped courtroom at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse. In interviews with the Chicago Sun-Times, a trio of jurors, all of whom asked to remain anonymous, said the May trial was agonizing, their decision painful. Harris was found not guilty of murder, dismemberment and concealing a homicidal death.

    It was a shocking verdict in a case that had seemed ironclad based on statements by police and Cook County prosecutors: Kyrian’s blood was found in Harris’ car; three jail inmates had heard Harris confess; Harris’ alibi — that he’d handed the child off to strangers who told him they were Kyrian’s relatives — was unconvincing.

    “We went back every day thinking, ‘This is going to be they day they put on some evidence that explains why we’re all here,’” said one juror, a Hyde Park businesswoman. “But that never happened.”

    Long odds
    In murder trials before a jury, Cook County prosecutors win convictions 85% of the time. Given the ghastly nature of the crime, Harris, 42, figured his days as free man would be over.

    He turned down several plea deals, finally agreeing to an offer to plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter in exchange for a 100-month sentence. That was a clear sign prosecutors weren’t confident with their case, said K.S. Bob Galhotra, a member of the Public Defender’s Murder Task Force that handled Harris’ case.

    We were always confident in our case,” Galhotra said. If he took the deal, Harris would have gotten credit for time served in Cook County Jail and would have gone free in a few months. “But if you go to trial and lose, you’re spending the rest of your life in prison as a child killer.”

    The deal fell apart when Judge James Joyce refused to agree to the 100-month sentence, insisting on a sentencing hearing that could have tacked on years of prison time.

    ‘They did not prove their case’
    Over eight days at trial, jurors saw Kyrian’s mother take the stand, looked at autopsy photos of the toddler’s waterlogged remains and heard hours of expert sparring over the intricacies of identifying blood proteins and DNA. They heard from a jailhouse informant who said the snitches claiming to have heard Harris confess were lying.

    And testimony from Kyrian’s mother and Harris established that child care arrangements in their circle were decidedly ad hoc, said another juror, a suburban mother of two. Harris’ alibi was that he gave Kyrian to a man who came to his house and said he was taking the boy to stay with relatives. After talking on the phone with a woman who said she was Kyrian’s mother, Harris said he packed the boy’s things.

    “When I first heard it, I thought, ‘That is some baloney,’” the second juror said. “But they couldn’t prove it, and they couldn’t disprove it. It just felt like, where’s the evidence?”

    During nearly four hours of testimony, a state police expert conceded that stains in the back of Harris’ car were not blood, though they did contain Kyrian’s DNA.

    “That was like four hours of my life I’ll never get back,” the Hyde Park juror complained. “It wasn’t blood. Why bother?”

    When the jury took a poll after closing arguments, it wasn’t even close: Eight thought Harris was not guilty, four believed him guilty. A few hours later, the vote moved to eight for acquittal, two undecided and two guilty. The next morning, the tally had changed again: Ten for acquittal, and two holding out for guilty. After four more hours, the vote was unanimous for acquittal.

    After filing into the jury room, jurors wept and emotions grew after Joyce walked in. The prosecution’s case left ample room for reasonable doubt, the Hyde Park juror told the judge, and other jurors asked if police would chase down more leads in the case.

    “He [Joyce] said, ‘No, I think the state’s attorney knows who killed that child,’” the Hyde Park juror said.

    The response upset jurors, prompting one of the previous holdouts to say, “See, I knew he was guilty.’”

    Reached at her home, that woman, an African American mother and grandmother, conceded she questioned changing her vote and wondered if Harris was guilty.

    “But I don’t want to talk about that right now,” she said. “It’s taken me a long time just to find a place in my heart where I can put Kyrian.”

    The two other jurors remained confident in their vote to acquit.

    “It felt like this kid was destined to die. If he had a champion, it was Kamel, and Kamel was not a great babysitter, we found out,” the Hyde Park juror said. “You wanted to go back in time and pick that little boy up and take him home.”

    Paradise likes this.
  12. Kimster

    Kimster Director Staff Member

    The whole thing makes me sick.
  13. Takeitfromme

    Takeitfromme Professional Journalist/News Reporter

    I'm furious. This is sickening.
    KareBear, Paradise and spike like this.
  14. Kimster

    Kimster Director Staff Member

    It's a perfect example of why a lot of these cases don't ever make it to trial. We wonder why police don't arrest them, or why has it gone on so long, etc. This is why.
    Takeitfromme, Paradise and KareBear like this.

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