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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    A murderer’s plea for parole

    A murderers plea for parole

    Convicted murderer and former UA student Galareka Harrison will face sentencing today for stabbing her Graham-Greenlee roommate to death in September 2007.

    Judge Nanette Warner of the Pima County Superior Court will decide today around 10:30 a.m. whether to grant Harrison the possibility of parole, as Harrison has already been sentenced to life in prison.

    Less than a day after the closing arguments of Harrison’s week-long trial for the murder of fellow student Mia Henderson, the jury convicted the 19-year-old of first-degree murder, as well as three counts of forgery and one count of identity theft, on Sept. 19.

    Both sides in the sentencing process have been heard, leaving only prosecutors and the defense to speak to the court today before Warner delivers her decision, said David S. Ricker, community relations coordinator for the Superior Court.

    Harrison is not eligible for the death penalty, due to a deal reached before the September trial by prosecutor Rick Unklesbay and defense attorney John O’Brien, according to Pima County Superior Court records.

    The night of Henderson’s death, Harrison waited in another student’s room for her roommate to fall asleep. Harrison entered the Graham-Greenlee Residence Hall room a few hours later and stabbed Henderson more than 20 times while she slept in bed, prosecutors said during the trial.

    Loud screaming awoke residence assistant Diane Povatah, who ran into the blood-stained room to find Henderson on the ground, bleeding from her back, Povatah testified.

    While the RA tended to Henderson, Harrison sat nearby in the hallway, curled up and crying, Povatah said.

    Henderson died soon after, and Harrison confessed to the slaying, according to an audio tape provided by the University of Arizona Police Department.

    Just hours before she fatally stabbed her roommate, Harrison wrote a fake suicide note, which she intended to pass off as being written by Henderson, prosecutors said.

    In the note, Harrison – pretending to be Henderson – wrote she was committing suicide because she was unhappy with dorm life.

    “”I’ve thought over the whole weekend of just putting an end to life,”” the note read. “”I didn’t know how to tell my parents about the situation. I felt completely lost. I felt crazy.””

    The “”suicide”” note even mentioned Harrison, saying that Henderson was jealous of her roommate and other students.

    “”Galareka, she’s a nice enough girl,”” the note read. “”I could not take how much her family loves her.””

    The two roommates first clashed mere days into the semester, when Henderson suspected Harrison of stealing her CatCard, Social Security Card and $500. UAPD later found Henderson’s wallet in Harrison’s possession.

    Troubles continued between the two students, leading Henderson to seek help from police and the Dean of Students Office, who ignored the murder victim’s pleas, testified Londynn Young, one of Henderson’s best friends.

    According to Young’s testimony, less than a week after UA officials “”laughed at her,”” Henderson was murdered by the very person from whom she had asked the university to protect her.

    After calling 15 witnesses in the case, Unklesbay rested, saying common sense and previous testimony was all that was needed for the jury to deliver a definitive “”guilty”” verdict.

    The defense, on the other hand, rested without calling a single witness and chose to keep Harrison off of the witness stand.

    In a last ditch effort, O’Brien asked the court for a mistrial, saying prosecutors shifted the burden of proof from the prosecution to the defense during witness testimonies.

    Warner immediately denied the request, leaving O’Brien to prepare a closing argument in which the defense attorney claimed the evidence against Harrison was so overwhelming and obvious that she could not possibly be guilty.

    A guilty defendant would not leave “”such a long trail of lies,”” O’Brien said.

    Jurors disagreed when they handed down their unanimous verdict.

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