Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bayshore rape suspect accused of impersonating cop will represent himself

TAMPA — The man accused of posing as a police officer to rape a woman along Bayshore Boulevard will represent himself at his trial next week, getting a chance to publicly cross-examine his alleged victim.

Luis Munuzuri-Harris, 31, is not a lawyer. On Tuesday, he chose to proceed without his appointed public defender, Maria Pavlidis, after she asked to postpone the trial for four months. She had voluminous depositions still to review.

Harris doesn't want to give prosecutors extra time to build a case. Defendants are entitled to a trial within 175 days of their arrest, but most accused of serious crimes waive that right, giving their own attorneys more opportunity to prepare. Harris declined to do so.

And he chose to defend himself. Pavlidis has spent 90 percent of her time on Harris' case, she said at a previous hearing. Now, at Harris' request, Pavlidis will serve only as his standby counsel, silently available if he has legal questions.

Harris will give opening and closing statements.

He'll make objections. And have an opportunity to question his accuser, who is expected to testify.

Tampa police said that on July 29, he used a blue laser flashlight to signal the 28-year-old woman to pull over. He told her she was intoxicated, handcuffed her and put her in the back seat of his car, police said. After he used her ATM card to withdraw money, he raped her, police say.

The victim has given inconsistent statements about the flashlight and the handcuffs, the defense said at a previous hearing.

Harris' DNA was found on the woman. He said they met at the Tiny Tap and had consensual sex. But she told a detective she had not heard of the bar.

Police say he also pistol-whipped a man in the parking lot of Pete's Place, a South Tampa bar. In that crime, they say he also pretended to be a cop.

State records show Harris has never worked in law enforcement in Florida. For five months more than a decade ago, he attended a police academy in Lake County, but he did not graduate.

Harris was tried and acquitted on sexual battery charges in 1999. In 2005, he was sentenced to three years in prison for charges that included grand theft.

After his arrest this summer, he filed a slander lawsuit against the Bayshore victim, but a judge dismissed it last month.

He tried to get his public defender admonished, saying she wasn't communicating enough with him. But Circuit Judge Chet A. Tharpe said she had been effective and that it appeared Harris was trying to set her up for an "ineffective counsel" case on appeal. If convicted of this rape, Harris could get life in prison.

Alexandra Zayas can be reached at azayas@sptimes.com or (813) 310-2081.

Bayshore rape suspect accused of impersonating cop will represent himself 01/04/11 [Last modified: Monday, January 10, 2011 7:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs do their best to stiff-arm the expectations

    Bucs

    TAMPA — If you want to see a team giving the Heisman trophy stiff-arm to expectations, check out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    As always, the key to the Bucs success will be Jameis Winston. He still is only 23, but a charismatic leader that this team and this town believes deeply in. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  2. Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg and ex-cheerleader Lynn Aronberg finalize their divorce

    Blogs

    In announcing that her divorce was settled this week, Lynn Aronberg said the reason for the split in part was because she supports President Donald Trump and her Democratic husband does not.

    Dave and Lynn Aronberg were married on St. Pete Beach in May 2015.
  3. A trip down memory lane of Bucs' preseason expectations

    Bucs

    With HBO's Hard Knocks in town and the Bucs opening training camp Friday with their highest expectations in a decade, here's a look back at Tampa Bay's preseason expectations since their last playoff appearance in 2007 — and the results.

    2008

    Jameis Winston and running back Peyton Barber celebrate a touchdown last season against the 49ers. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  4. Boy Scouts apologize over Trump's remarks at jamboree

    National

    Facing an angry backlash from parents and former members, the chief executive of the Boy Scouts of America apologized on Thursday for political remarks made by President Donald Trump at the organization's national jamboree this week, during which the commander-in-chief crowed over his election victory, attacked the news …

    President DonaldTrump, front left, gestures as former boys scouts, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, left, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, watch at the 2017 National Boy Scout Jamboree at the Summit in Glen Jean, W.Va. Boy Scouts president Randall Stephenson told the Associated Press on Wednesday, July 26, in his first public comments on the furor over President Donald Trump's speech on Monday that he'd be "disingenuous" if he suggested he was surprised by the Republican president's comments. [Associated Press]
  5. Drones restrictions coming at Tampa Bay area airports

    Airlines

    Starting Sept. 1, Tampa International Airport officials will be enforcing new height restrictions for drones and other unmanned aircraft systems, according to a press release.

    In this February 2017 file photo, a drone flies in Hanworth Park in west London. Starting Sept. 1, Tampa International Airport officials will be enforcing new height restrictions for drones and other unmanned aircraft systems,
[John Stillwell/PA via AP, File]