Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Dade City man who once beat a murder charge sentenced to 20 years in another killing

Anthony Harris, 28, escaped a life sentence for armed robbery after he won an appeal.

Anthony Harris, 28, escaped a life sentence for armed robbery after he won an appeal.

DADE CITY — A Dade City man who beat a murder rap about five years ago and who escaped a life term for a robbery because of an error during his trial will spend the next 20 years in prison.

Anthony James Harris, 28, was supposed to have spent the rest of his life in prison for a 2007 armed robbery at a Zephyrhills park that left two men hospitalized. But prosecutors changed the charge twice, the last time to an attempted robbery with a firearm.

The evidence indicated the robbery had been completed, and the jury found Harris guilty of armed robbery. Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa had no choice but to put him away for life because of Harris' prior crimes and prison time.

Harris appealed, saying he had been convicted and punished for a crime he was not accused of committing. The 2nd District Court of Appeal agreed and overturned the conviction.

But Harris' troubles continued. In 2009, he was accused of gunning down a Dade City drug dealer. Prosecutors said Harris went into Cleo Stinyard's home, which had stockpiles of cocaine and cash, on June 12, 2009, and shot him in the chest and head. But a jury found him not guilty — an almost unheard-of outcome in first-degree murder cases.

Most of the witnesses on both sides had criminal records, with one saying he saw Harris carry out the murder and another saying Harris was being framed for working as a drug informer for the feds.

However, four months later Harris was charged with yet another murder: the 2007 fatal shooting of 24-year-old Sean Alexander Larry Spaights outside a Dade City bar.

The original charge was first-degree murder, but prosecutors reduced it to second-degree murder in exchange for a guilty plea, which Harris made on Thursday. Siracusa gave him 20 years as part of the deal, and threw in 20 years for the robbery. Harris will be allowed to serve both sentences concurrently.

In addition to his court appearances for his own arrests, Harris testified for the prosecution in the trial of Luc Pierre-Charles, who was accused along with Tyree Jenkins of shooting two Wesley Chapel teens execution style on a dark dirt road in Trilby in 2006. Pierre-Charles was convicted but his case was also overturned on appeal.

Dade City man who once beat a murder charge sentenced to 20 years in another killing 01/10/14 [Last modified: Friday, January 10, 2014 8:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Video: Crowd catches teen falling from Six Flags ride

    Nation

    QUEENSBURY, N.Y. — A teenager fell about 25 feet (about 8 meters) from a stopped gondola ride at an upstate New York amusement park Saturday night, tumbling into a crowd of park guests and employees gathered below to catch her before she hit the ground.

    A teenager fell from a stopped gondola ride at Six Flags in upstate New York. [FACEBOOK VIA LOREN LENT]
  2. Trump accuses Clinton of colluding with Democrats to defeat 'Crazy Bernie Sanders'

    National

    In the wake of a bombshell story about Russia's meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election - and persistent allegations that President Donald Trump's campaign may have colluded with Russia to win - Trump took to Twitter Sunday morning to accuse someone else of collusion: his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.

    President Donald Trump speaks during the "American Leadership in Emerging Technology" event in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, June 22, 2017, in Washington. [AP Photo/Evan Vucci]
  3. Vending machines to give 100,000 free books to Florida kids

    Education

    FORT LAUDERDALE — Children in South Florida will soon be able to get free books from vending machines.

  4. Afraid of sharks in Florida? Flu, asteroids pose far greater risk

    Wildlife

    BOSTON — You might want a bigger boat, but you probably don't need better odds.

    FILE - In this Sept. 13, 2012 file photo, Captain Brett McBride places his hand on the snout of a great white shark while scientists collect blood, tissue samples and attach tracking devices on the research vessel Ocearch off the coast of Chatham, Mass. Before release, the nearly 15-foot, 2,292-pound shark was named Genie for famed shark researcher Eugenie Clark. Great white sharks are making their annual return to Cape Cod, rattling some boaters and beachgoers. Yet the chances of an attack resulting in serious injury or death are infinitesimally small. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia, File) BX302
  5. For starters: Rays lineup vs Orioles

    Blogs