Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bayshore rape suspect's friend testifies against him

Luis Munuzuri-Harris, 31, has heated words Tuesday with his attorneys, assistant public defender Chuck Traina and public defender Maria Pavlidis, as tears roll down his face. He was overheard worrying about life in prison.


Luis Munuzuri-Harris, 31, has heated words Tuesday with his attorneys, assistant public defender Chuck Traina and public defender Maria Pavlidis, as tears roll down his face. He was overheard worrying about life in prison.

TAMPA —The same night he allegedly posed as a cop to pull over a woman and rape her, Luis Munuzuri-Harris showed a friend how easy it was to make a motorist stop.

That's according to the friend, a felon and self-employed repairman named Michael Sexton, who testified Tuesday at Harris' trial.

Harris' lawyers tried to keep jurors from hearing Sexton's story about that July 29 night, which began with the two getting a beer. But a judge overruled their objections.

So Sexton told this account:

Just before Harris dropped him off at home, Sexton rode in the passenger seat as Harris made an abrupt 180-degree turn, drove up on a motorist and watched the man pull over.

Harris said he bought the Impala because it looked like an undercover police car, Sexton testified. The victim in the rape case would later testify that it fooled her.

But as Sexton spoke on the stand, Harris stared at him and mouthed, "I never said that."

Harris, who had represented himself for three days last week before announcing he'd made a "tremendous error in judgment," sat by his reappointed public defenders as police described their investigation.

At one point, Harris burst into tears.

It happened after Harris was told he couldn't pass a note to a television news reporter.

Jurors were ushered out of the courtroom for a two-hour recess.

Harris was overheard cursing at his lawyers and worrying about the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison.

At the end of the day Tuesday, jurors watched a video recording of interviews Harris gave detectives after his arrest.

They saw him tell one detective, about the rape victim, "I've never seen her in my life."

And they heard him tell another he saw her swerving in the road, stopped to help and ended up going out with her.

He told one detective he kissed and hugged her at the end of the night. He later said she came onto him for sex.

Last week, she testified he pulled her over, handcuffed her and put her in the backseat of his car, then drove to an ATM, telling her he would withdraw money she could use for bail.

By that moment, she said she knew he was an imposter and feared for her life. Not long after that ATM withdrawal, she said, he raped her.

In his version, Harris tells detectives she asked him to withdraw money from her bank account at a South Tampa ATM.

But when a detective told him he was caught on video later that night using her ATM card at the Hard Rock Casino, Harris didn't know what to say.

Maybe he did use it, he said.

"I didn't rape her, though."

The state is expected to rest its case today.

Alexandra Zayas can be reached at or (813) 226-3354.

Bayshore rape suspect's friend testifies against him 01/18/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 7:17am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Hard to believe NFL overtime change is about player safety


    If someone's house was engulfed in flames, would you hand him a fire extinguisher?

    Of course not.

    Fans await the beginning of overtime between the Patriots and Falcons in Super Bowl LI in February. [Associated Press]
  2. Winning high school essays urge balance in U.S. foreign, domestic spending


    Three winners were selected by a panel of judges from among 250 entrants to receive a $1,200 scholarship in the R.F. "Red" Pittman Tampa Tribune Scholars essay contest.

  3. Tampa Tribune scholarships inspire students to keep digging for facts



    When the Tampa Tribune launched a scholarship for Hillsborough County's top high school seniors more than 50 years ago, no one could have guessed it would one day be turned over to the newspaper's rival, now called the Tampa Bay Times.

  4. Port Tampa Bay secures $9 million grant to deepen Big Bend Channel


    Port Tampa Bay has secured a $9 million grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the widening and deepening of the Big Bend Channel in southern Hillsborough County.

  5. Photos of the week: 20 great images from around the globe


    This week's collection of the most interesting photos from around the world features a silhouetted surfer in France, images of joy and grief from England, a massive landslide in California, a life rescued and a life lost at sea, an image from the final performance of "the greatest show on Earth" and, just for kicks, a …

    BIARRITZ, FRANCE - MAY 24:  Guillermo Satt of Chile in action whilst competing in the Men's Qualifying Round 2 during day five of the ISA World Surfing Games 2017 at Grande Plage  on May 24, 2017 in Biarritz, France.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)