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Long rap sheet didn't help seven-time felon

DADE CITY — "You've been a gentleman," Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa told the inmate. He said that throughout his trial, Lendrick Harris had been polite, which was appreciated.

"But I think you know what's coming," Siracusa said.

He sentenced Harris to life in prison.

It was Wednesday afternoon in Courtroom A at the Dade City courthouse. Harris, 33, of Tampa was there to be sentenced for a crime he still claims he didn't do.

Dec. 10, 2003, a man dressed in a black dress, high heels and a wig robbed a SunTrust Bank on State Road 54 in Zephyrhills. He got $1,931 and fled in a getaway car, which he crashed near State Road 56 and Interstate 75. The man then carjacked a 25-year-old woman and ordered her into the passenger's seat. He drove to Tampa and let the woman out at Busch Boulevard. Harris was named a suspect and arrested in 2005.

His trial was in October. Harris is a seven-time felon who has been to prison four times. He didn't claim to be an angel. In fact, his vice was his alibi.

He told the jury he couldn't have committed the crime because he was selling cocaine in Grant Park in Tampa.

His attorney, Dillon Vizcarra, argued that witnesses said the suspect was a tall man, at least 6 feet if not taller. Harris is only 5 foot 8 inches. He said he couldn't have worn high heels because of a bad ankle, injured in a dirt bike accident. His DNA was on the black dress, left in the crashed getaway car, and on a cigarette butt left in the carjacked vehicle. A photo of Harris' child also was left in the getaway car.

But his attorney said his DNA didn't match that found on the jacket, baseball cap and high-heeled shoes found in the crashed car. He said the DNA of the owner of the getaway car, a tall drug-associate of Harris', was never tested and it should be.

Jurors found Harris guilty of robbery, carjacking and kidnapping. Wednesday, Vizcarra made a motion for a new trial.

It was denied.

Harris didn't show emotion when sentenced. Siracusa asked Harris if he wanted to say anything.

"Here's your day," the judge said. "If you want to have your say, you can."

"No, sir," Harris said.

His attorney plans to appeal the verdict.

Siracusa said he didn't want Harris to think that no one was hurt in this crime. The carjacker told the young woman that he wouldn't hurt her and that he was just trying to give his kids a good Christmas. She wasn't physically injured.

"It was terrifying," Siracusa said. "She will never get her sense of security back."

Erin Sullivan can be reached at esullivan@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4609.

Long rap sheet didn't help seven-time felon 01/07/09 [Last modified: Thursday, January 8, 2009 11:28pm]
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