Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Ex-sergeant is fighting to shed a Florida murder charge

TAMPA — A former MacDill Air Force Base sergeant is fighting to get a second-degree murder charge cleared from his record.

Charles P. Harman, 27, was accused in April 2005 of shooting his pregnant wife.

He initially called 911 to report her death as a suicide but was arrested after deputies learned the couple had been arguing and struggled over a handgun. At the time, the Hills­borough Sheriff's Office said Harman admitted putting the gun in her mouth and pulling the trigger.

But the alleged statement was not captured on tape, and the detective who referenced the statement in a subsequent taped interview later had no independent recollection of Harman having made the admission during the first interview.

Without the defendant's statement, the medical examiner could not rule out suicide or accidental shooting as the cause of Emily Suzanne Rykwalder's death. And prosecutors could not introduce the statement as evidence unless they could first prove that Harman's wife died as the result of a crime.

A year after Harman's arrest, the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office dropped the murder charge.

Still, the case lives on.

In January, a senior judge denied Harman's request to have the murder charge expunged from his record. Harman is appealing that decision.

Generally, individuals are eligible to have a case expunged once in their lifetime as long as they have never been found guilty of another crime. Most eligible people who apply in Hillsborough County get their requests granted, Assistant State Attorney Sean Keefe said.

But Keefe fought Harman's request.

Harman was arrested in October 2003 for a domestic dispute involving his first wife. He was allowed to enter a domestic violence diversion program.

Of the subsequent murder charge, "we felt like it should be on the record," Keefe said.

Harman, an air traffic controller at the time of his 2005 arrest, was discharged from the military, said his Daytona Beach attorney, Michael Ciocchetti.

"We are currently considering legal action against the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office for Mr. Harman's wrongful arrest," Ciocchetti said. "Mr. Harman has always maintained his innocence and feels vindicated by the State Attorney's Office decision to drop the charges against him."

Colleen Jenkins can be reached at cjenkins@sptimes.com or

(813) 226-3337.

Ex-sergeant is fighting to shed a Florida murder charge 03/07/08 [Last modified: Friday, March 14, 2008 10:51am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Deputies find unidentified decomposing body in Dunedin canal

    Public Safety

    DUNEDIN — Pinellas County sheriff's deputies found an unidentified male body floating in a Dunedin canal Monday afternoon, the Sheriff's Office said.

  2. Rays acquire slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from Marlins

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chaim Bloom said the Rays weren't necessarily in the market for a shortstop. The team has a number of those. But when the Marlins recently began shopping Adeiny Hechavarria, well, that was too much to pass up.

    Adeiny Hechavarria has emerged as one of baseball’s top defensive shortstops in the past three seasons with the Marlins.
  3. Lightning journal: Forward Yanni Gourde agrees to two-year deal

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Just three years ago, Yanni Gourde was fighting to stay in pro hockey.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde celebrates after scoring against the Florida Panthers during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 11, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA108
  4. Fennelly: About time Dave Andreychuk makes Hockey Hall of Fame

    Lightning Strikes

    It's Andy's time.

    And it's about time.

    Former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk has been elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame. He had been eligible since 2009, a ridiculously long wait for someone who scored 640 goals, including a record 274 on the power play.

    LEFT: Dave Andreychuk talks at the podium as he is honored with a statue in front of the now-Amalie Arena.
  5. British government says 75 out of 75 buildings failed fire safety tests

    World

    LONDON — Britain on Monday confronted a rapidly growing fire safety crisis after tests of the exterior cladding on dozens of public housing towers revealed a 100 percent failure rate, raising fears that this month's deadly inferno in London could be repeated elsewhere.

    Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dali, presents his first Chrono-Hologram in Paris, France, in 1973. A Spanish judge on Monday June 26, 2017, has ordered the remains of artist Salvador Dali to be exhumed following a paternity suit by a woman named by Europa Press agency as Pilar Abel, 61 from the nearby city of Girona. Dali, considered one of the fathers of surrealism in art, died in 1989 and is buried in his museum in the northeastern town of Figueres. [Associated Press]