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Cocaine defense can't save robber in a dress

DADE CITY — "Let's get straight to the point," the defense attorney said to his client on the stand.

Dillon Vizcarra asked Lendrick Harris if he wore women's clothing.

He said no.

High heels?

No again.

Harris, 33, of Tampa was charged with robbery, carjacking and kidnapping after a man dressed as a woman robbed a bank in Zephyrhills early one afternoon in December 2003. Harris was on trial here all week. On Friday, he took the stand, and with an alibi: Couldn't have been him. Nope. At that time on that day, he explained to jurors, he was selling cocaine in Grant Park in Tampa.

The entertaining testimony was part of a game effort by the defense. Vizcarra tried to pin the crime on one of Harris' drug-doing pals. It wasn't enough.

Harris was found guilty on all charges.

Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa set sentencing for Dec. 15. Harris is a seven-time felon who's been to prison four times before. He will get at least 30 years and could get life.

The trial started Monday. Prosecutor Manny Garcia called 21 witnesses. Here's what jurors heard:

On Dec. 10, 2003, a man showed up at the SunTrust bank on State Road 54 in Zephyrhills. The man was black, witnesses said, and he was wearing a black wig, a black dress and black high heels. He wanted money. Two tellers gave him $1,931.

The man in the dress sped off in a 1992 tan Grand Marquis registered to the drug-doing pal. He crashed the Grand Marquis near the intersection of SR 56 and Interstate 75.

So he carjacked a woman in a black Chevy Cavalier. By now the man was no longer wearing the dress. The man told her to get in the passenger seat and drove south on I-275. He let her out at Busch Boulevard. He left the car near Sligh Avenue.

Harris was arrested almost two weeks later after the woman picked him out of a photo lineup.

The defense in the trial?

Most of the witnesses at the bank told authorities the man in the dress was 6 feet tall or taller. Harris is 5 foot 8. Harris told jurors there was no way he could've worn high heels because he has a bum ankle from an old dirt bike accident.

The evidence against Harris was "overwhelming," said Garcia, the prosecutor.

Left in the Grand Marquis was the dress. It had Harris' DNA on it. Left in the Grand Marquis was the wig. Harris' DNA. Also left: a picture of Harris' daughter.

The man drove the Chevy Cavalier with the woman in the car for more than 20 minutes. He asked if he could smoke one of her cigarettes. On the butt was DNA that belonged to Harris.

Michael Kruse can be reached at mkruse@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6244.

Cocaine defense can't save robber in a dress 10/31/08 [Last modified: Sunday, November 2, 2008 3:14pm]
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