Friend offers alibi for Derrick Harris the night of half-brother's death

NEW PORT RICHEY — The night his younger brother was killed, Derrick Harris got a phone call while he was hanging out with friends. It was about his brother, Anthony Granton.

"He was like agitated, like worried, like something had happened," Terrance Lee testified Wednesday, offering an alibi to charges Harris was the murderer.

Lee, now a 25-year-old prison inmate, said he and Harris drove to Ridgewood High School to look for Granton, 18, the night of Sept. 26, 2008, but couldn't get in because the gate was locked. Granton's body turned up the next day in the bottom of a Dumpster near the campus on Orchid Lake Road.

Prosecutors say Harris shot his brother in the back of the head and put his body there, then called 911 using a fake name. Granton's blood was found in the trunk of his white Civic that Harris had been driving.

Two girls who testified for the state said Harris, 25, drove them around in the Civic the night of the murder. They also said they used the car twice for about 15 minutes each to leave a party where everyone was hanging out.

Harris, they said, flashed a gun at the party and also was seen with Granton's cell phone.

Lee, however, said he didn't see Harris with a gun that night, and remembered the girls leaving once for an hour in the Civic.

Prosecutors have not offered a motive for the killing. Defense attorney Willie Pura told jurors that gang vengeance was likely behind the murder.

Lee testified that he was present when Granton sold rims to two Valentine Blood gang members a couple of weeks before he was killed.

Harris, who faces life in prison if convicted, was questioned by detectives six times before he was arrested, offering conflicting stories about when he'd last seen his brother. Once, he said, he just happened to be cleaning out his car at a Dumpster and discovered his brother's body.

He also knew he was a suspect.

Chantell Napier, one of the girls at the party that night, said she was driving with Harris a week or so after Granton's death.

"We asked him what was going on with the case," Napier said. "He was like, 'they think it's me, but them dumb motherf------ can't even find the gun.' "

He didn't say much after that, Napier said.

The trial is expected to conclude today.

Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or on Twitter at @mollymoorhead.

Friend offers alibi for Derrick Harris the night of half-brother's death 09/14/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 8:59pm]

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