DADE CITY — Anthony Harris, who beat a murder charge in April only to be charged with another homicide in June, is going to prison for the rest of his life regardless.
Harris, 25, was convicted Wednesday in a January 2007 armed robbery in Zephyrhills. Prosecutors said Harris and a friend jumped two men in a park, robbed them of cash and jewelry and beat them with handguns. The jury found him guilty as charged of robbing one man with a firearm but convicted him of a lesser crime of battery of the second man.
Because of his prior crimes and prison time, the only sentence Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa could give Harris was life in prison.
"If ever there was a case that a record could substantiate where someone deserves life in prison, it's this case and it's Mr. Harris," said Assistant State Attorney Stacey Sumner.
Harris was charged in 2005 with robbery and carjacking, eventually pleading to lesser charges of felony battery and grand theft. He was sentenced to 13 months in prison and was released in September 2006, just four months before the robbery in Zephyrhills' Lincoln Park that left two men hospitalized.
Last year, Harris testified for the prosecution in the first-degree murder trial of Luc Pierre-Charles, who was accused of killing two Wesley Chapel teens on an isolated Trilby road in 2006.
Harris was working then as an informer for the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. He told the jury Pierre-Charles confessed to shooting one of the boys, and said Tyree Jenkins shot the other.
But perhaps the most notable charge on Harris' record is the one he beat. Harris, who grew up in Dade City and attended Wesley Chapel High School, was accused of gunning down a Dade City drug dealer a year ago. 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.
Harris never left jail, though, because of the pending armed robbery charges. And two weeks ago, prosecutors secured another first-degree murder indictment against him, accusing Harris of fatally shooting 24-year-old Sean Alexander Larry Spaights outside a Dade City bar in August 2007.
That case also carries a possible life sentence; prosecutors have not determined whether they will seek the death penalty.
Molly Moorhead can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6245.