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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Case goes to jury after mistrial rejected

    Following more than a week of testimony from the prosecution in the first-degree murder trial against former UA student Galareka Harrison, the defense needed less than a day to present its case.

    In fact, the defense’s case barely even started. Mere minutes after the prosecution rested, defense attorney John O’Brien asked for a mistrial, saying that prosecutor Rick Unklesbay shifted the burden of proof from the prosecution to the defense this past week during witness testimonies. Unklesbay’s tactics gave the jurors the false notion that the defense must prove Harrison’s innocence, rather than the prosecution proving her guilt, O’Brien said.

    Judge Nanette Warner swiftly denied the motion, and the defense rested without calling a witness.

    Warner asked Harrison if she wished to take the stand to defend herself, an offer the former UA First-Year Scholar refused.

    The closing arguments were a battle of rhetorical styles, as Unklesbay cited hard evidence to advance his argument, while O’Brien approached the jury from a logical stance.

    O’Brien said there was enough reasonable doubt in the case for the jury to deliver a “”not guilty”” verdict.

    While the prosecution and witnesses spelled out possible scenarios outlining the night then-freshman Mia Henderson was fatally stabbed more than 20 times, the presence of so many different scenarios is enough is show that no one, aside from Harrison and Henderson, truly knows what happened, he said.

    Because so many questions remain, Harrison is not guilty, O’Brien said.

    O’Brien also cited his client’s inconsistencies as strengths for the defense, stating that a woman who would carry out premeditated murder on her roommate would not leave “”such a long trail of lies.””

    The false nature of Henderson’s suicide note also supports the defense’s claims in a too-obvious-to-be-guilty dynamic, the public defender said.

    While the defense worked to plant seeds of doubt, the prosecution named off the long list of evidence against the defendant: the allegedly forged suicide note, the UA library surveillance footage, the taped confession of a sobbing Harrison and the eight-inch bloody knife, still covered with small patches of hair.

    “”You will not find a case with more premeditation than the one you have at the moment,”” Unklesbay said.

    Following the closing arguments, Warner dismissed the jury, saying that the jury needed a fresh start. The jurors will begin deliberation this morning.

    – Ethan Williams contributed to this story

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