Assumed Deceased: Michele Harris - NY - 09/11/2001
Posted 26 May 2007 - 03:11 PM
Name: Michele Anne Harris
Classification: Endangered Missing Adult
Alias / Nickname: Michele Taylor
Date of Birth: 1965-09-29
Date Missing: 2001-09-11
From City/State: Waverly, NY
Missing From (Country): USA
Age at Time of Disappearance: 35
Height: 62 inches
Weight: 100 pounds
Hair Color: Blonde
Eye Color: Brown
Identifying Characteristics: Pierced ears, tattoo of sun flames on right ankle, breast augmentation.
Clothing: Navy blue polo style shirt (collar has white stars and red stripes, left sleeve band has red and white stripes, right sleeve band has white stars, white star with "Lefty's Staff" under it on upper left corner of shirt), khaki shorts, white athletic shoes.
Jewelry: Gold and silver watch, numerous rings and bracelets, two chain necklaces (one of the necklaces has a religious pendent on it).
Circumstances of Disappearance: Unknown. Michele was last seen at approximately 9:30pm leaving her place of employment in the vicinity of the 400 block of Broad St. in Waverly, NY. She went to visit a friend in Barton, NY and left at approximately 11:30pm to go back to her residence in Spencer, NY. Her vehicle, described as a gold 2000 Ford Windstar Van with NY dealer plates, was located the following morning near her residence in the vicinity of the 300 block of Hagadorn Hill Rd. in Spencer, NY. The keys were in the ignition.
Investigative Agency: New York State Police Department
Phone: (607) 687-3961
Investigative Case #: SP Owega 01-270
Posted 26 May 2007 - 03:15 PM
BY ERIC HRIN
OWEGO, N.Y. Ã¢â‚¬â€ Two people testified Friday afternoon about Calvin HarrisÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Ã¢â‚¬Å“suspiciousÃ¢â‚¬Â and Ã¢â‚¬Å“unusualÃ¢â‚¬Â behavior following the disappearance of his wife, Michele, in 2001.
Thomas and Cindy Turner testified during the second half of the third day of testimony in Calvin HarrisÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ murder trial at the Tioga County Courthouse in Owego, N.Y.
In addition, a man who said he had a sexual relationship with Michele Harris and worked with her at LeftyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Right Hand Bar in Waverly, N.Y., also took the stand, and said they stayed on good terms even after they stopped seeing each other.
Calvin Harris, 46, of Spencer, N.Y., is facing second-degree murder charges related to the Sept. 11, 2001, disappearance of his wife, who was 35 years old when she was last seen.
Her abandoned minivan was found the morning after she disappeared on the shoulder of Hagadorn Hill Road in Spencer, near the driveway entrance to the coupleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 250-acre estate on Empire Lake.
The Turners, who said they were from Barton, N.Y., said they became close friends with the couple, partaking in recreational activities with them, including jet skiing, water skiing and ice skating. Michele Harris had been their baby sitter.
They said Calvin Harris drove by in his truck Sept. 12 and waved, but didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t stop and tell them that his wife was missing. And they didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know it at the time.
The Turners said they didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t see any children in the vehicle, when the possibility was suggested that Calvin didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t stop and say anything so the children wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t hear.
Cindy Turner said she had talked with Michele Harris four days before she went missing, and said Harris wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t her Ã¢â‚¬Å“happy, go-lucky self.Ã¢â‚¬Â
She ended up finding out about her disappearance from someone else. Then, she tried calling Michele Harris on the phone.
She said Calvin Harris eventually called her while she was at school. She works in the Tioga Central School District as a library clerk.
Cindy Turner said she went under her desk to take the call since there were children around. She knew something wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t right and asked Calvin Harris why he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t tell her that her best friend was missing.
But Harris told Turner she didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t understand, she said. He said that Michele Harris was Ã¢â‚¬Å“no good,Ã¢â‚¬Â she said.
Calvin Harris had told investigators that Michele Harris had been hanging with a Ã¢â‚¬Å“bad crowdÃ¢â‚¬Â of people for Waverly for some time Ã¢â‚¬â€ and that he believed she may have acquired some drug and drinking habits, according to previous testimony.
During his testimony, Thomas Turner said he also talked with Calvin Harris about Michele Harris. Ã¢â‚¬Å“He mentioned cocaine, and I said, Ã¢â‚¬ËœNo way,Ã¢â‚¬â„¢Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.
Cindy Turner described Calvin HarrisÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ demeanor as Ã¢â‚¬Å“very suspiciousÃ¢â‚¬Â and Ã¢â‚¬Å“very unusual.Ã¢â‚¬Â HarrisÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ attorneys objected.
That Friday Ã¢â‚¬â€ after his wifeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s disappearance Ã¢â‚¬â€ Calvin Harris brought his children to the Turner residence. The plan was to leave them there for the weekend since a forensics team was at the Harris residence.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He acted very unusual with his head down at the table,Ã¢â‚¬Â Cindy Turner said, saying Calvin Harris would not make eye contact. Harris mentioned a spot of blood that was found at his residence, she said, noting he said he cut himself shaving.
Calvin Harris left for about two hours before coming back. The plan changed then and he was going to take the kids with him for the weekend.
The Turners were making the kids hamburgers to eat.
Calvin Harris asked Cindy Turner if she had window cleaner so he could clean his glasses, she said. He asked her if she had disinfectant. She said she had Lysol.
Cindy Turner said Calvin Harris was cleaning his glasses with a toothpick and asked if she had a brush. She said she had never seen him clean glasses like that.
In fact, she said she had seen the children knock them off before and he just put them back on. She said Calvin Harris didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t indicate that he was cleaning the glasses because he had a drive ahead of him, when the possibility was suggested by his attorneys.
Thomas Turner described Calvin HarrisÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ demeanor as Ã¢â‚¬Å“anxious to get going, fidgeting.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Cindy Turner was aware the couple were going through a divorce. Michele Harris would call and tell her things, she said. Calvin Harris didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to get a divorce because of the effect of the divorce on his possessions, she said.
Michael Kasper of Sayre also took the stand. He had worked as a manager at LeftyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s.
On Sept. 11, 2001, he said he and Michele Harris left the restaurant, where she was a waitress, at 9 p.m.
They went to the parking lot and talked about 9/11, and what a Ã¢â‚¬Å“really messed-up dayÃ¢â‚¬Â it was due to the terrorist attacks in New York City.
Eventually they and another person who was present left to go home.
Kasper said he went to his apartment. He didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t follow Michele Harris, and supposed she was going home. He never heard from her again.
In addition, Kasper testified that he and Michele Harris had had a relationship that involved sex. It lasted from April through May, he said, though he was questioned on the timeframe.
He said he believed it was Ã¢â‚¬Å“done in June.Ã¢â‚¬Â
According to previous testimony, Michele Harris had planned a trip to New York City on Sept. 11, 2001, to visit a friend, but she didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t go due to the events of 9/11.
She intended to sell a diamond ring and a Rolex watch to help her pay for a house she wanted to buy after the divorce process from Calvin was final, Nicole Burdick, a close friend of Michele HarrisÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, testified earlier this week. The defense asked Kasper if it was possible he knew this. He said he wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t aware of it.
Although KasperÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s relationship with Michele ended in June, he said they stayed on good terms. He didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t see Michele Harris using cocaine, he said, but he saw her use marijuana on one occasion.
Two forest rangers, Norman Jensen and Terry Figary, testified about the searches that were conducted for Michele Harris, one right after she disappeared and another in November of that year.
There was nothing conclusive as to Michele HarrisÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ whereabouts or what happened to her, Figary said. Many details were provided about the types of searches that were done.
The trial will resume Tuesday.
Posted 26 May 2007 - 03:17 PM
Housekeeper suspected Harris early in wife's disappearance
OWEGO Ã¢â‚¬â€ A former housekeeper for the Harris family said she began to suspect Calvin Harris had something to do with his wife's disappearance when he showed little emotion about Michele Harris' welfare in the days after she vanished in 2001.
Barbara Thayer said eight days after Michele Harris was last seen on Sept. 11, 2001, Calvin Harris was bagging up Michele's clothes, shoes and personal items to throw away. She said he suggested to her they have a yard sale and split the profits, Thayer testified Wednesday in Tioga County Court where Calvin Harris is on trial, charged with second-degree murder.
Tioga County District Attorney Gerald Keene said Wednesday that Calvin Harris killed his wife because he was losing control over her and he stood to lose financially in a divorce settlement. Tiny amounts of Michele's blood were found in the kitchen and garage, according to court documents. But there is no body or weapon to prove the case, Keene admitted.
Before she disappeared, Calvin Harris made Michele a settlement offer that would have given her $80,000 a year for 10 years and custody of their four children, court records state.
Harris is a millionaire as a result of his family's many car dealerships in the region, prosecutors said.
Thayer's statement, and portions of her testimony, was challenged by Calvin Harris' attorney, Joseph F. Cawley Jr., who said Thayer was the one who suggested having a yard sale and had asked Calvin Harris if her own daughter could have some of Michele's clothing.
A yard sale offering Michele Harris' clothes and shoes was held months later, Thayer testified. About $1,800 of the profits went to local charities. Calvin Harris received $199. But Cawley produced photograph after photograph of items belonging to Michele that remained in the Harrises' home at least two years after she disappeared, including antiques, clothing and personal items.
The jury of six men and six women asked to see the photographs, too.
Thayer described the lifestyle of the Harrises as one of wealth and luxury. Michele, who stayed home with the couple's children, did not work until her marriage began to crumble. She found work as a waitress at a Waverly restaurant. She had nannies and housekeepers like Thayer, who did the family's laundry and watched the children.
The house remained cluttered, despite the hired help. Michele had lots of clothing, shoes and other personal items. Thayer said she and Michele were friends, and Michele was like a daughter to her.
Thayer's relationship with Calvin remained strictly professional, she testified.
Michele didn't care about messes, the housekeeper said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The kids came first,Ã¢â‚¬Â Thayer said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Michele could see past the dirty dishes, piles of laundry.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Thayer said Calvin Harris called her at 7 a.m. Sept. 12, 2001, and told her Michele hadn't come home and he needed help getting three of the four children off to school. Thayer, who lives 3 to 4 miles from the Harris estate, drove to the Harrises where she saw Michele's Ford minivan parked at the end of the driveway. She looked in the passenger side and then opened the hatch of the vehicle.
She drove the quarter-mile up the drive to the house and asked Calvin if Michele was home, she testified Wednesday. Calvin drove Thayer to Michele's minivan and Thayer drove the minivan into the Harrises' garage.
Under questioning by Keene, Thayer testified that Calvin Harris told her he thought Michele might have gone to New York City to visit a friend. Thayer knew about the trip, she testified. Michele Harris had planned a trip to New York the week of Sept. 11, Keene said.
But Cawley said Thayer had neglected to tell the jury information she'd earlier told state police investigators that her first thought on seeing Michele's abandoned minivan on Sept. 12, 2001, was that Michele was hurt. She also speculated to police that Michele might have come home after a night of drinking and gotten lost on a walk to her house.
Thayer was aware of the couple's marital problems, she testified.
She'd met Michele's boyfriend, she told Cawley. She also acknowledged that the boyfriend, Brian Early, had stronger feelings for Michele than Michele had for him. Thayer also testified under Keene's questioning that Michele never left her children for any length of time Ã¢â‚¬â€ and that's why she doubted Calvin Harris' speculation that Michele had gone to New York City.
But Cawley asked the former housekeeper if she was aware that Michele Harris had spent the night with her boyfriend several times and at one point had stayed with him for five days in a row. Thayer testified she was not aware of those events.
Testimony from prosecution witnesses continues today. As many as 70 witnesses could be called, Keene said.
Posted 26 May 2007 - 03:19 PM
Missing woman's friend testifies in Harris case
May 24, 2007
One of Michele Harris's closest friends took the stand this morning in Tioga County Court to describe her relationship with the missing Spencer woman whose husband is on trial for murder.
Nicole Burdick worked for Cal Harris at a dealership, she testified.
She spoke to Michele nearly every day, including Sept. 11, 2001, in the afternoon before Michele went to work at Lefty's tavern. Michele did not return a late voice mail message Burdick left for her that evening.
Burdick call Michele's divorce attorney, Robert Miller, as soon as she found out Michele was missing early Sept. 12, 2001, she testified.
Burdick said she never saw Michele use drugs or drink to excess, but did tell defense attorneys that she and Michele went out up to three times a week to drink in bars and listen to karaoke in the months before Michele disappeared.
Michele's brother, Greg Taylor, also took the stand this morning. He testified he was unaware of his sister having a drug or alcohol problem.
Posted 26 May 2007 - 03:21 PM
Cal Harris Trial Day 2 Testimony
The brother and a close friend of Michele Harris testify in the murder trial of her husband.
45 year old Cal Harris walked into Tioga County Court this morning for the 2nd day of his trial.
He's charged with 2nd degree murder, accused of killing his wife in 2001.
Michele's body has never been found..
The prosecution called Michele's brother, Greg Taylor. to the stand.
Taylor said Cal had tried to get the family to talk Michele out of seeking a divorce.
But, he complained about her spending, alleged drug use and poor house keeping.
Taylor says Cal told the family Michele drove him to have an affair.
A friend of Michele's, Nicole Burdick, testified she had a new love in her life at the time of her disappearance.
Brian Early, who lived in Smithboro at the time, was the last known person to see Michele before she disappeared on September 11th, 2001.
Burdick also recalled Michele had talked about going to New York City some time to sell a Rolex watch because she needed to raise money to buy a house.
Testimony is continuing the afternoon with a New York State Police Investigator.
Posted 26 May 2007 - 03:23 PM
Harris' father cries on stand
Close friend, brother say Michele Harris did not use drugs, drink too much, contradicting husband.
May 25, 2007
OWEGO -- Michele Harris' father broke down crying on the witness stand in Tioga County Court Thursday when he was shown a photograph of his daughter.
"That's Michele," Gary Taylor said, his voice breaking.
Twenty feet away, at the defense table, Calvin Harris wiped his own eyes. Harris is on trial in Tioga County Court, charged with second-degree murder in connection with his wife Michele's disappearance on Sept. 11, 2001. Her body has never been found.
Michele was divorcing Calvin, a wealthy Owego-area businessman, when she vanished.
Tioga County District Attorney Gerald Keene, who had shown the photograph of Michele to Taylor, then put the photograph on a projector for the jury to see Michele, laughing, on a giant screen. Then Keene left the photo there, saying he had to get some notes. Defense attorney Joseph F. Cawley Jr. insisted the photo be removed.
Taylor testified he rarely sees his four grandchildren. The last time was about a week ago, when the children stopped at his home with their baby sitter, he said.
Nicole Burdick, one of Michele Harris' closest friends, also took the stand to describe her relationship with Michele. Burdick worked for Calvin Harris at a car dealership, she testified.
She spoke to Michele nearly every day, she said, including the afternoon of Sept. 11, 2001, before Michele went to work at Lefty's tavern. Michele did not return a late voice mail message Burdick left for her that evening.
Burdick called Michele's divorce attorney, Robert Miller, as soon as she found out Michele was missing early Sept. 12, 2001, she testified.
Burdick said she never saw Michele use drugs or drink to excess, but did tell defense attorneys that she and Michele went out up to three times a week to drink in bars and listen to karaoke in the months before Michele disappeared.
Burdick said she didn't approve of the people Michele was spending time with at Lefty's, a Waverly restaurant where Michele worked.
Michele's brother, Greg Taylor, also testified Michele didn't abuse drugs or drink to excess.
The testimony contradicted what Calvin Harris told family members and police, namely that his wife frequently went to bars to drink and he feared she was using cocaine.
State police investigators called to the stand Thursday testified that Calvin Harris allowed them to search Michele's minivan, their home and the more than 200 acres of property of his estate in the days following Michele's disappearance. On Sept. 12, 2001, Calvin left two troopers, Michael Young and Michael Myers, alone at his home to conduct their investigation while he returned to work in Owego, they testified.
Posted 26 May 2007 - 03:24 PM
Testimony focuses on bloodstain in garage
OWEGO, N.Y. Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Two witnesses provided testimony Thursday at the trial of Calvin Harris concerning a bloodstain that was found in the garage of his home early in the investigation into his wifeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s disappearance.
New York State Police Investigators Michael Myers and Mike Young both testified at the Tioga County Courthouse in Owego, N.Y. about a bloodstain found on a rug in the garage, near the entrance to the kitchen, of the HarrisÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ home in Spencer, N.Y. Myers and Young both visited the HarrisesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ house on the morning of Sept. 12, 2001, just after Michele was reported missing.
The investigators interviewed Calvin Harris at Royal Ford, in Owego, just hours after his wife was reported missing and testified that he offered to go back to his residence in Spencer to allow the police to investigate the scene.
During his testimony, Myers said Harris noted during the interview that it was odd Michele, his wife, though they were in the midst of a divorce, had not returned home.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He said that was very unusual and it never happened in the morning,Ã¢â‚¬Â Myers said.
Myers also noted that Calvin also said that it was strange that MicheleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s car was parked at the end of the driveway, nearly a quarter of a mile away, and out of sight from the house. However, Calvin didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t notice the situation until morning because Michele Harris had been sleeping on the living room couch at the residence for about 10 months prior to her disappearance.
When Harris returned to the residence with the investigators he told them that he believed Michele had been hanging with a Ã¢â‚¬Å“bad crowdÃ¢â‚¬Â of people from Waverly for sometime -- and that he believed she may have acquired some drug and drinking habits.
Harris offered the police an explanation that she may have left the van at the end of the driveway and had someone pick her up Ã¢â‚¬Å“to go drinking,Ã¢â‚¬Â and that she may have been doing that for sometime. He told them he did not know because he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t keep track of where she went after work.
Calvin Harris allowed the officers to search the minivan, the house and the rest of the 250-acre property on Empire Lake, but said he had to return to work and left.
The officers then looked around briefly and returned later that day to the car dealership where Harris worked and asked him to sign consent orders that would allow them to search the van, home and property, which they said he did without incident.
Upon the search, Ã¢â‚¬Å“evidence techniciansÃ¢â‚¬Â found blood near the garage entrance to the kitchen. Both Myers and Young both noted that the investigators indicated that the blood looked like there had been an attempt to wipe it up.
When the officers returned to HarrisÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ place of work to ask him about the blood, they said that though he seemed in deep thought, he could not explain where it came from
Harris eventually told the investigators the blood could be from an incident which his son had cut his hand several weeks earlier.
Harris also told police that if he can usually hear things in the downstairs of his house while he is sleeping and if there was some kind of commotion he would have heard it.
The court also heard brief testimonies from one of MicheleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s close friends, Nicole Burdick, who noted that she and Michele had been Ã¢â‚¬Å“going outÃ¢â‚¬Â more frequently than usual over the three to four weeks prior to her disappearance.
Burdick also told the court that Michele had planned a trip to New York City on Sept 11, 2001 to visit a friend, but because of the tragedy that surrounded our nation that day she did not go. However, Burdick said that if Michele had traveled to New York City, she intended to sell a diamond ring and a Rolex watch to help her pay for a house she wished to purchase after the divorce process was final.
Ã¢â‚¬ÂShe was buying a house and she needed the money,Ã¢â‚¬Â Burdick said.
The court also heard from three close family members, her only brother, Greg Taylor; her sister-in-law, Shannon Taylor; and her father, Gary Taylor.
Both Greg and Shannon, of Tioga Center, in their testimony noted that Michele was involved in a relationship with another man, Brian Early, for some time while still married to Harris. They noted that she didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t appear to be very Ã¢â‚¬Å“seriousÃ¢â‚¬Â about the relationship.
Greg and Shannon also both noted that before she disappeared in 2001, Michele took several guns from her house to the TaylorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s to be stored.
Greg said the last time he saw his sister was just days before she disappeared.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“She was in good spirits,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The proceedings were getting near the end and she had a meeting with an attorney in a few days.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Shannon Taylor also went on to note there had been several instances that Michele had contacted her while she appeared to be frightened.
She said one instance, while she was on the phone with Michele, she could hear her screaming for someone to get away from her and to leave her alone and he heard Calvin Harris yelling in the background, Ã¢â‚¬ËœGet off the phone.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢
She said there was another instance when Michele locked herself and one of her children inside her vehicle which was parked in the HarrisÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ garage. Meanwhile, Calvin Harris parked his truck behind the vehicle so she could not get out.
Shannon said she was talking to her on the phone at the time and Michele seemed upset. Shannon then phone the HarrisÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ housekeeper, Barbara Thayer, and asked her to check on them. When Thayer arrived, Shannon said Calvin finally allowed her to get out of the garage.
She went on to say that though they got along well before Michele disappeared; now Calvin Harris does his best to avoid her whenever possible.
Shannon, who said she often had long conversations with Michele, noted that Michele just wanted to get on with her life.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“She was really getting anxious for her divorce so she could move on,Ã¢â‚¬Â she said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“She wanted a normal life I guess.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Gary Taylor, of Tioga Center, MicheleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s father, also took the stand briefly.
He said that he, Calvin Harris, and Greg and Shannon Taylor had met years ago and Calvin admitted and apologized to them for having a relationship with another woman while he was married to Michele.
He went on to note that he has not had any contact with Calvin Harris since his daughterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s disappearance.
He was asked to identify a photograph and broke out into tears, forcing out the words, Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Michele.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The final witness to be called was Denise Marsili, Chief Clerk for Tioga County Court Judge OÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Shea, who responded to just several questions regarding a court order that Michele had sought years ago, following what was described as a physical assault from Calvin Harris.
However, Judge Martin Smith would not allow the evidence to be presented to the court because it concerned a matter unrelated to the trial.
Marsili was dismissed from the stand after an objection from Calvin HarrisÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Attorney Joseph Cawley Jr. and a brief discussion between the judge, the defense and the prosecution.
Court was then recessed early because Smith said there would likely not be enough time to question another witness.
The trial continues today at 9 a.m. at the Tioga County Courthouse in Owego, N.Y.
Posted 26 May 2007 - 03:27 PM
Family members remember Michele Harris; Testimony highlights third day of the Calvin Harris trial
May 25, 2007
OWEGO - Family members of Michele Harris remember a vibrant woman who in the weeks before she disappeared was happy, but also under a great deal of stress.
Sept. 9, 2001 was one of the last days many of her family members ever saw her. Two days later Michele Harris was reported missing. She was in the midst of a divorce from her husband Calvin Harris, a well-known 45-year old businessman from Spencer. Now, almost six years later Calvin Harris stands trial, accused of his wife's murder.
Testimony in the trial continued Thursday for the second day. Michele's father Gary Taylor brought into focus the personal and emotional tragedy the trial represents for the Harris and Taylor families. Taylor sobbed openly on the stand when asked by prosecutor, Tioga County District Attorney Gerald Keene, if he had heard from his daughter since Sept. 11, 2001. Taylor said he had not and dropped his head into his hands. Keene placed a photo before Taylor and asked if he recognized the item.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Yes. That's Michele,Ã¢â‚¬Â Taylor said choking back tears.
Across the courtroom flanked by his attorneys, Calvin Harris wiped tears from his eyes.
Keene laid the image of a smiling, blond haired Michele Harris on the overhead projector, which enlarged the image on a screen facing the jury.
Prosecutors allege that Calvin Harris killed his wife as the ultimate sign of his control over her, and that he was upset his wife planned to divorce him because it threatened to take away his control over his wife, his children, and his money. Michele Harris' vehicle was found at the bottom of the driveway leading to the couple's home on the morning of Sept. 12, 2001.
Michele's body has never been found, nor has a weapon been recovered.
Harris' attorneys, however, argue that there is no substantial physical evidence which proves Harris killed Michele.
During testimony Thursday two New York State Police investigators testified to blood having been found inside the garage of the Harris' home.
Investigator Michael Myers said when Harris was confronted with the discovery he appeared puzzled, rubbed his head and said he did not know how the blood could have gotten there. Harris did offer that his son, Tanner, may have cut his finger and bled in the area at one time, said Myers.
In fact, Tanner had cut his head several months before the blood splatters were discovered in the garage, testimony later in the day by Michele Harris' sister-in-law, Shannon Taylor, revealed. Answering a question from presiding Judge Barton Smith, Shannon Taylor said Tanner would have had to have been walked through the garage to a vehicle to be transported to the hospital.
Calvin Harris was interviewed at the car dealership he owned in 2001 on Sept. 12, 2001, the day his wife was reported missing to police by Waverly attorney Robert Miller, who has since passed away, testified Myers.
Harris answered all of the investigators questions, or attempted to as best as he could, Myers and Investigator Michael Young said on the stand Thursday.
Harris told the investigators his wife had not come home the night before, an unusual occurrence. Although the Harris' were in the process of getting a divorce, Michele continued to live in the couple's home with their four children. Harris did suggest to investigators that his wife may have parked her vehicle at the end of the couple's driveway and then gone drinking with someone.
Earlier in the day, Michele's friend Nikki Burdick testified that she and Michele had frequented area bars two or three days a week in the three weeks before Harris disappeared. Burdick said she saw or spoke to Harris almost daily for three years until the day she disappeared. Burdick said she did not know Michele to do drugs or drink in excess.
Harris' brother Greg Taylor took the stand earlier in the day and said he also was not aware of his sister using drugs.
Calvin Harris told investigators on Sept. 12, 2001 that he had heard rumors his estranged wife had been abusing drugs, but did not say he knew for a fact that she was or had abused drugs.
Shannon Taylor said she also spoke to Michele almost every day and it was Taylor who Michele called from a closet in her home while Calvin Harris was outside the closet door chambering and unchambering a shot gun repeatedly.
Taylor testified to hearing Calvin Harris tell his wife to Ã¢â‚¬Å“get off the phone,Ã¢â‚¬Â and said Michele attempted to leave the home that night but Calvin Harris blocked her vehicle with his truck. Taylor contacted Michele's neighbor and babysitter Barbara Thayer with a cell phone while still on the phone with Michele and asked her to go check on Michele. Thayer and Thayer's husband Randy drove to the Harris home, but by then Calvin Harris had moved his truck, Taylor testified, adding that Michele spent several hours at the Taylor home that night.
Investigator Myers testified Thursday that he asked Calvin Harris if Michele may have decided to travel to New York City to visit her friend, a trip that had been planned for later in the week. Calvin Harris said he did not believe Michele would have gone to the city without telling him of her plans.
On Wednesday, Thayer testified that when she asked Calvin Harris if he had any idea where Michele may be, he suggested she might have traveled to New York City. Calvin Harris also told police he thought Michele had gotten mixed up with a bad crowd in Waverly.
Keene's case took a hit Thursday when he attempted to enter evidence that Michele Harris had filed, and been granted, a Protection From Abuse order in April of 2001.
The evidence was objected to by the defense and Smith then cited several legal reasons the evidence could not be permitted, including the fact it referred to a prior criminal charge not related to the charges Harris was currently on trial for. Smith added that the order had later been vacated and alleged a physical assault. The jury was not present for the discussion of the order.
During their time on the stand, Greg Taylor and his wife Shannon, as well as Burdick were asked about Michele's relationship with Brian Early, her boyfriend. Michele met Early in November of 2000, testified Shannon Taylor. A romantic relationship did later evolve. Michele visited Early on the evening of Sept. 11, 2001, court documents show. Greg Taylor said Early told him he had seen Michele on Sept. 11, 2001, but that she had left his home to return to the Harris home.
Witnesses were also asked by defense attorney William Eastman about an employee of one of the car dealerships Calvin Harris was associated with and his apparent Ã¢â‚¬Å“unusual interestÃ¢â‚¬Â in Michele, as well as an employee at Lefty's in Waverly who allegedly Ã¢â‚¬Å“grabbed Michele's breasts.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Investigator Young testified that Calvin Harris referred to this individual during interviews and expressed a belief that his wife was having an affair with the person.
Investigator Myers testified that Calvin Harris told him he had thrown away several items on an island in the Harris' home the weekend before Sept. 11, 2001. Some of the items thrown away included the Harris children's folders for school, Myers said.
Thayer testified Wednesday that the island had been cluttered the afternoon of Sept. 11, 2001, but clear on Sept. 12. She knew of at least one folder - one of the Harris' girls' - which had horses on it that was missing. The young girl told Thayer her daddy had thrown the folder away. Calvin Harris told Thayer he had not thrown the folder away. Harris told investigators the folders had been thrown away because they were from the previous school year and that he had purchased new folders for the children on Sept. 12, Myers said. The school year had begun about a week or two prior to Michele Harris' disappearance, Myers said.
When asked by Keene if Calvin Harris had ever contacted investigators to inquire about the status of the investigation into his wife's disappearance, Myers said the police were never contacted by Harris regarding the investigation.
Posted 26 May 2007 - 03:29 PM
Harris trial begins today, even though body was never found
Gannett News Service
BINGHAMTON Ã¢â‚¬â€ The Harrises looked like the perfect family in a photograph.
Beautiful, blond wife, successful husband from a wealthy Tioga County family, both surrounded by four picture-perfect young children, posing for the camera amidst fall's bright leaves.
But something, somewhere, went terribly wrong.
Michele Harris, 35, disappeared more than five years ago, her gold Ford minivan found abandoned at the entrance to the couple's driveway in the Town of Spencer on Sept. 12, 2001. The keys remained in the ignition, officials said.
This week, Michele's husband, Calvin Harris, 45, will stand trial for what a prosecutor claims was her murder five years ago, even though her body has never been found. Jury selection will begin today in Tioga County Court in Owego.
A friend in 2001 had no doubt that Michele is dead.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Michele would never leave her kids,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Linda Hyatt, a close friend of Michele's in the months after her disappearance. The children, two boys and two girls, were 2, 4, 6 and 7 years old when their mother vanished.
Months of intense police searches in and around the couple's rural estate, including nearby Empire Lake, would yield no sign of Michele, nor would the constant monitoring of her bank account and cellular telephone.
But through the years, police investigators refused to call it quits.
State police spent thousands of hours on the case, said Capt. Mark Lester of Troop C's Bureau of Criminal Investigation. What made the Harris case different from other cases is that it never went cold, Lester said. Leads kept coming in and were followed. Investigators kept pushing for clues Ã¢â‚¬â€ and for answers.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We've never given up looking for Michele,Ã¢â‚¬Â Lester said.
On Sept. 30, 2005, Calvin Harris was indicted on one count of second-degree murder Ã¢â‚¬â€ four years after Michele disappeared.
Lester refused to discuss what came to light in the police investigation after four years that gave Tioga County District Attorney Gerald Keene enough evidence to seek the indictment.
But making that indictment stick would prove to be difficult.
After a review of the grand jury proceedings done at the request of Harris' defense attorney, Joseph F. Cawley Jr., Tioga County Judge Vincent Sgueglia told Keene and Cawley that he would throw out the indictment because the proceedings, conducted by Keene, were fatally flawed.
Three days later, Keene would demand that Sgueglia step down from the case, accusing the judge of showing favoritism and bias toward Cawley and Harris. Sgueglia vehemently denied the accusation, but stepped down anyway.
In December, Broome County Judge Martin E. Smith was appointed to oversee the case. And he agreed with Sgueglia, in January tossing Keene's indictment and citing a litany of Keene's errors, including knowingly allowing improper hearsay testimony from witnesses during the grand jury proceedings. Witnesses also had been given free rein to voice opinions on the couple's relationship, he said.
In addition, Keene had given the grand jurors an impression that caused them to undervalue their own role in reviewing the evidence, Smith said in his written decision. Keene also told grand jurors, in a conversation about a polygraph test, that he had a story to tell them, but couldn't share that story until after the trial, court documents said.
Keene pressed forward, however, getting a new indictment from a different grand jury in February. A trial date was set for May 21. JoAnn Peet, Tioga County chief court clerk, said 450 Tioga residents have been summoned for jury selection.
Harris remained free on bail throughout the court proceedings after his family posted $500,000 in cash. Harris continues to live with his children in the home he shared with Michele, friends said.
Harris' defense attorney, a skilled trial veteran with three murder acquittals under his belt, is sure to argue that Harris didn't kill his wife. Cawley said in an earlier court appearance that Keene's case against his client was circumstantial Ã¢â‚¬â€ meaning there were no eyewitnesses.
Details of the case against Harris have been hard to come by because the court files remain sealed on the orders of the judge. And neither Cawley nor Keene will say much about the case. But the couple's relationship is almost certain to be a central issue in the trial.
The couple became estranged, but lived together under the same roof, police, friends and family would later say. Michele Harris began divorce proceedings in January 2001. She had a boyfriend, who may have been the last person to see her before she vanished.
State police initially said Harris was last seen by co-workers when she left her waitressing job in Waverly about 9:30 p.m. Sept. 11, 2001. But Cawley said in a later court appearance that Michele Harris had actually stopped at her boyfriend's house after she left work, leaving there about 11:30 p.m. that night.
A friend, who remains unidentified, reported her missing early Sept. 12, 2001.
By the time state police investigators showed up on Sept. 12, 2001, Michele's minivan was parked in the Harris' garage, and Calvin Harris had no objection to allowing the investigators to search the minivan, the house and property on Sept. 12, police testified at a pre-trial hearing in 2006.
In the years between Michele Harris' disappearance and the murder indictment, Calvin Harris would be charged with misdemeanor assault in 2002 for hitting his brother at a family-owned car dealership in Owego.
Later, grand jury testimony in Tioga County would hint at the couple's relationship, with Michele allegedly calling a family member from inside a closet where she hid from her husband, court documents stated.
What is known is that the couple continued to live together with their four children in a big house on an estate in rural Spencer. Michele never showed up for an appointment with her divorce attorney on Sept. 12, 2001.
It isn't unusual for a divorcing couple to live together, because if one leaves, the other gains custody of the children, said Donald M. Sukloff, a five-decade veteran of legal marital battles in Broome County. But such living arrangements may have a high price for the couple and their children. Ã¢â‚¬Å“It can be a terrible atmosphere,Ã¢â‚¬Â the Binghamton attorney said.
Michele Harris disappeared on one of the country's darkest days.
On Sept. 11, 2001, all attention was focused on New York City, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., after terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Michele Harris may have been overlooked in the days following the attacks, but her family and friends have not forgotten her.
Her photograph remains posted on the Web site of the National Center for Missing Adults to this day.
She is described as blond with brown eyes. Harris is 5-feet, 2-inches tall and weighs 100 pounds. She has a sun and flames tattoo on her ankle and breast augmentation. She was wearing numerous rings and bracelets, two chain necklaces, one with a religious pendant.
Posted 27 May 2007 - 10:16 AM
Sunday May 27, 2007 NEWS
Trial paints two pictures of missing woman
Testimony portrays Michele Harris as loving mother, bar-hopper
By Nancy Dooling
Press & Sun-Bulletin
Who is, or was, Michele Harris?
Three days of testimony last week during the murder trial of her husband, Calvin Harris, offered two different pictures of the radiant, blond mother of four who disappeared Sept. 11, 2001.
Calvin Harris, a wealthy Tioga County businessman, is accused of killing her, although her body has never been found.
That Michele's friends and family loved her is beyond dispute. Her father, Gary Taylor, wept when shown a picture of his daughter while he testified in Tioga County Court.
"She was beautiful," said her friend, Nicole Burdick.
She laughed and played with her four young children, who ranged in age from 2 to 7 years old at the time she disappeared, other family members have testified.
She was a wonderful friend, speaking on the telephone nearly every day to Burdick, and she maintained a close relationship with her neighbor, Cindy Turner, the two women testified last week. If Burdick didn't talk to Michele by phone, she'd see her in person, she testified.
Michele Harris maintained a close, personal friendship with her housekeeper, Barbara Thayer, confiding in her, and riding horses with her. It was not the relationship of employer and employee.
She remained close to her brother, Greg Taylor, and to his wife, Shannon, with whom she also had a close relationship, Shannon Taylor testified.
Cindy Turner knew Michele as a teenager, when she baby-sat Cindy's and husband Thomas' children, she testified. When asked about Michele's relationship with her children, Cindy Turner spoke about Michele's birthday parties for her kids, about being invited to holiday parties at the Harris estate, and her Easter egg hunts.
"Shelly loved parties," Turner said.
She remembered Michele bathing her children in the kitchen sink when they were babies.
And Cindy Turner was devastated that Calvin Harris didn't tell her that Michele was missing. Instead, she learned from others, she said. Two days after Michele disappeared, Calvin Harris called Turner at work.
"I asked him where Shelly was," Turner testified. "And how come I found out from a friend and secretary that my best friend is missing," she said, her voice breaking with emotion.
But other testimony offered last week showed a different side of Michele.
In the midst of a bitter divorce, she took a job as a waitress at Lefty's, a Waverly restaurant.
She started going to bars after work, friends and family testified.
And Calvin Harris told police in their initial investigation that Michele worked until 9 p.m. at Lefty's, and then stayed out until 1 or 2 a.m. drinking in bars.
Burdick testified that she and Michele went out two or three times a week, and with increasing frequency in the summer of 2001.
She did not drink to excess nor do illegal drugs, Burdick and family members insisted. But Thayer, the housekeeper, discovered Michele's van parked along the driveway to Hagadorn Road on Sept. 12, 2001. She checked the inside of the van, thinking that maybe Michele had been out drinking the night before and was sleeping in the back of the van, the housekeeper testified.
Michele met a 23-year-old Philadelphia man in a bar in late November 2000 and the two began an affair, he testified. Brian Earley left Philadelphia, moving to Tioga County to be close to her, he testified. He wanted to marry her, he said.
In December 2000, Michele asked Calvin Harris, her husband of 10 years, for a divorce. He reacted angrily, court records show. On Dec. 8, 2000, Shannon Taylor called Michele in the middle of an argument between Michele and Calvin and Michele told her he blocked her in with his truck and wouldn't let her leave.
But while dating Earley, Michele also had a two-month affair with another 23-year-old man, Michael Kasper, then a manager at Lefty's, Kasper testified Friday. Michael Kasper said the two parted amicably.
Calvin Harris told police investigators that Michele had planned a trip to New York City the week of Sept. 11 for Sept. 13-14. She'd told him and others that she was meeting a friend from college in the city and that she was excited about the trip.
Michele had an associate's degree in business from the State University of New York at Morrisville, court documents state.
But she told others she was going to the city to pawn some of her jewelry, including her engagement ring -- which held a 2-carat diamond -- and a Rolex watch Calvin had given her in 2000 during a cruise the couple took to reconcile after Calvin Harris had an affair with a woman who worked at one of his dealerships, court records state.
Michele wore lots of jewelry and commonly wore the Rolex watch, friends testified.
She was short of money. Calvin Harris had been ordered to pay Michele $400 a week in spending money while the divorce action was pending. He also was responsible for meeting all household expenses, the mortgage and bills.
But Michele had run up $16,000 in credit card bills, court documents state. And she owed Thayer about $1,000 in baby-sitting hours. Calvin Harris paid Thayer for housecleaning duties and baby-sitting, but wouldn't pay for the baby-sitting Thayer did for Michele while she was at work, Thayer testified.
The trial resumes Tuesday.
Posted 31 May 2007 - 06:41 PM
Investigator testifies about blood in Harris home
May 29, 2007
OWEGO -- Testimony was heard this morning in Tioga County court about blood found in the house where Calvin and Michele Harris lived in the town of Spencer.
There was no blood discovered in Michele Harris' minivan, a senior investigator with the state police testified. But investigators did find the fingerprints of Michele's husband, Calvin Harris, and Brian Earley, Michele's boyfriend. Both were found on the driver's side of the minivan.
Senior Investigator Steve Andersen, a member of the state police forensic identification unit, told the jury he'd been a part of the Michele Harris investigation since the 35-year-old woman disappeared on Sept. 11, 2001.
Calvin Harris, 46, is on trial on once count of second-degree murder in the death of his estranged wife, Michele.
Andersen is expected to testify where he found tiny particles of blood in the kitchen/garage entryway. Prosecutors say Calvin Harris killed his wife in the house and hid her body.
Michele Harris' body has never been found.
Posted 31 May 2007 - 06:42 PM
Michele Harris' college roommate testifies
Updated: 5/30/2007 6:55 PM
By: Kaitlyn Ross
Court opened Wednesday with the cross examination of Forensic Investigator Stephen Anderson.
Defense Attorney Joe Cawley asked Anderson about a shirt that was found near the scene of the crime with dark red stains on it.
Though Anderson said the shirt was tested for blood, and those tests were negative, it was never tested for DNA.
Several witness took the stand Wednesday for day six of the Cal Harris murder trial--the man accused of killing his wife in 2001. News 10 Now's Kaitlyn Ross was there and has more on a day where the focus was once again on a forensic investigator on the case.
Cawley then asked Anderson if it was possible Michele's boyfriend at the time, Brian Earley, or her manager she had a sexual relationship with, Micheal Kasper's DNA might have been on the shirt.
Cawley also questioned Anderson about a Rolex watch box which was found on Michele Harris' minivan.
Though the outside of the vehicle was fingerprinted, the watch never was, even after the senior investigator requested it.
Michele Harris' college roommate, Lisa Feuer, also took the stand.
She testified that Michele had made plans with her to visit her home near New York City on September 13, 2001. During her trip, Michele planned to sell her two carat engagement ring in the diamond district.
In the cross examination, Feuer said she and Michele hadn't cancelled their plans after the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers, but said she has not heard from her since September 11, 2001.
Several other witnesses, including the Harris' home food delivery man, testified that they saw Michele on the 11th, and she seemed to be in good spirits.
Her phone service providers also testified that the Harris' had both a home phone and a cell phone, and the bills went to their P.O. Box.
Posted 31 May 2007 - 06:45 PM
Calvin Harris Murder Trial: Witness says Calvin Threatened to Kill Michele
Last Update: May 31, 2007 5:43 PM
Posted By: Staci-Lyn Honda
Michele Harris' hair dresser Jerome Wilczynski testified that he heard Calvin threaten to kill Michele a couple of months before she went missing in September 2001. He told the jury she got a phone call from Calvin. That's when Wilczynski said Michele tipped the phone and let him listen in.
He said he heard Calvin telling Michele that he didn't want her to go through with the divorce. That's when Calvin said quote, "You listen to me Michele I will kill you, I will kill you.Ã¢â‚¬Â
But when the defense questioned Wilczynski, he admitted that he didn't tell investigators about the threat until years after Michele disappeared. When asked why, he said he didn't trust the investigators and felt they were discriminating against him because he's gay.
Calvin's ex-girlfriend also took the stand. Connie Gauthier said when she dated Calvin in 1999, she knew he was married.
About two weeks after Michele disappeared she spent the night at the Harris' home. After she expressed some concern that Michele might come home, she testified that Calvin told her, "Michele's not coming home tonight."
A New York State Police Investigator also testified Thursday morning. He told the jury about a massive 3 day surveillance effort where police followed Calvin and staked out his home. But they didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t find anything.
Posted 31 May 2007 - 06:46 PM
Harris trial testimony concerns alleged threat
Michele Harris told one of her sisters-in-law that her husband, Calvin Harris, told her he wouldn't need a gun to kill her, and that her body would never be found, another sister-in-law testified today at Calvin Harris' trial on one count of second-degree murder in Tioga County Court.
Calvin Harris denied making those statements to Michele and to his sister-in-law, and said if he did say them, he didn't mean them when he was confronted with the statements over a family dinner three days after Michele disappeared, Francine Harris testified today.
Francine Harris is married to Kevin Harris, who has been in a legal dispute with Calvin Harris over the six car dealerships the brothers co-own, Francine Harris said under questioning by Calvin Harris' attorneys.
Francine Harris testified that Michele told Mary Jo Harris what Calvin Harris said about the gun. The statements were made as a result of Michele Harris removing guns from their home and giving them to her brother, Greg Taylor, for safekeeping. Court documents indicate that Michele removed the guns after she told Calvin Harris she would seek a divorce. That was in December, 2000, court records state. Michele later turned the guns over to Kevin Harris as part of a court order in her divorce proceedings, which began in the spring of 2001, records state.
Mary Jo Harris is married to Steve Harris, who is also Calvin Harris' brother.
Also taking the stand today was Connie Gauthier, Calvin Harris' former girlfriend. Calvin and Connie Gauthier began a sexual relationship in 1999, Connie Gauthier testified today. She said they broke the relationship off after Michele Harris confronted Gauthier about the affair in 1999.
Gauthier and Calvin Harris continued their relationship sporadically over the years, including a trip to Bike Week in Daytona Beach in Florida in 2000, Gauthier testified. Gauthier testified she stayed overnight at the Harris house Sept. 29, 2001, in the Town of Spencer - 18 days after Michele Harris's disappearance.
Gauthier also said on the stand that she was subpoenaed by the prosecution to testify and remains friends with Calvin Harris.
Posted 31 May 2007 - 06:50 PM
Cal Harris' ex-girlfriend testifies
Updated: 5/31/2007 8:03 PM
By: Kaitlyn Ross
Through testimony, it has been shown that both Michele and Cal Harris had affairs during their marriage. On Tuesday, Cal Harris' girlfriend during the months leading up to Michele Harris' disappearance took the stand.
Constance Gauthier testified that she and Cal had a sexual relationship beginning in April of 1999. At one point in their relationship, Michele came to Gauthier's work and asked her to leave Cal so that the Harris' could fix their marital problems. However, the affair continued.
Several witnesses took the stand Thursday for day seven of the Cal Harris murder trial. News 10 Now's Kaitlyn Ross was there and has more on a day where the focus was on Cal Harris' girlfriend at the time of his wife's disappearance.
She spent the night at the Harris' home 18 days after Michele disappeared. When she asked Cal about Michele coming home, he told her not to worry and that she wouldn't be coming home that night.
The defense asked Gauthier if she felt comfortable around Cal Harris, and she said yes and that the two remained friends to this day.
Linda Hyatt, a friend of the couple, also took the stand on Thursday. She told the court that Cal had come to her to try and convince Michele not to divorce him, but he showed little emotion after she disappeared. She was with Cal when he told the children their mother was missing, and she said he behaved like it was business as usual.
Harris' sister-in-law, Fran Harris, also took the stand. She testified about conversations that took place after Michele disappeared when the family was in Cooperstown while the police searched the Harris' home.
According to Fran Harris, Cal admitted to telling Michele he could kill her without using a gun, and the police would never find her body. Fran Harris also testified that Cal's father had called, saying they found Michele's body, and Cal told her, "No, that's impossible. They couldn't have found her." Michele Harris' body was never found.
Upon cross-examination, Fran said that her husband Kevin and Cal have been involved in a bitter lawsuit that has lasted at least four years.
Lynn Angulis, another witness for the prosecution, said her and Cal's children attended the same school and that days after Michele went missing, she saw Cal crying in the principal's office.
Posted 08 June 2007 - 07:27 AM
Ã‚Â Thursday, June 7, 2007
OWEGO - Sobs and cries of Ã¢â‚¬Å“no!Ã¢â‚¬Â could be heard from Calvin Harris as the jury foreman told the court what many thought they might not hear: Ã¢â‚¬Å“We the jury find the defendant Calvin Harris guilty.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Behind him Harris' family looked as if a gun had gone off - their faces frozen in shock, some putting their faces in their hands as tears began to flow. The brief statement from the jury foreman meant Harris had just been convicted of murdering his wife Michele on Sept. 11, 2001.
Harris' cries of Ã¢â‚¬Å“no!Ã¢â‚¬Â continued for close to three minutes, echoing throughout a partially full courtroom, as presiding Judge Martin E. Smith announced that Harris' bail was now revoked and he would be taken into the custody by Tioga County Sheriff's Department. Prior to Thursday Harris had been free on bail.
Harris' attorneys, Joseph Cawley Jr. and William Easton - looking solemn and as shocked as Harris' family - held Harris' arms and hugged him as he sobbed with his head down on the table in front of him, inches from photographs of his four children. Later he clutched those photographs, continuing to sob.
The oldest of the Harris children, Taylor, is 13.
The jury announced their verdict after deliberating for two and a half hours on Wednesday and for 90 minutes on Thursday.
The defense said Thursday there will Ã¢â‚¬Å“most likely be an appeal.Ã¢â‚¬Â They have 30 days to file that appeal in Tioga County Court.
Many who had watched the trial unfold were surprised at how quickly the jury came to a verdict. Harris, 46, of Spencer, is a member of a wealthy family who owns several car dealerships in Tioga County and in the Cortland, N.Y. area.
In a trial where circumstantial evidence was the main presentation of the prosecution's case, the feeling among many who witnessed the trial was that it could be difficult for Tioga County District Attorney Gerald Keene to convince a jury that Harris had murdered his wife. After the verdict Keene said he felt the evidence he presented had obviously been enough to convince the jury of Harris' guilt.
Keene presented his case without a body or a weapon, providing evidence instead of Harris' past statements about plans to kill his wife, as well as proof that Michele's blood was shed inside the Harris home. Keene said Harris killed his wife as the ultimate act of control over her, angry that their divorce would cause him to lose money from his car dealerships and custody of the couple's children.
One of the most damning statements made by Harris was repeated on the stand by two of his sister-in-laws, the wives of his brothers: Ã¢â‚¬Å“I don't need a gun to kill you and if I did kill you they'd never find your body.Ã¢â‚¬Â Keene told jurors he did not believe it was a coincidence that Harris told his wife police would never find her body and they never have.
The blood found was tiny specks, spread out over a small area in the garage and sprinkled in the kitchen. Even Keene couldn't tell the jury how Harris had killed Michele or where he had hid her body. All he knew, Keene said, was that Michele was dead.
The defense painted a picture throughout the trial that Michele could have been murdered by her boyfriend or one of her co-workers at Lefty's. When it came to the defense's turn to present their case, though, they did not produce evidence that either of the other men Michele had been in contact with on Sept. 11, 2001 had murdered her, nor could they show that Calvin Harris did not commit the crime.
The defense offered three witnesses, a DNA expert who refuted the age of the blood found in the Harris home, but not that it was Michele's; the landlady of Michele's boyfriend who said he had stopped by her home on Sept. 12, even though the boyfriend said he hadn't; and testimony by a friend of Harris' who said Calvin Harris had not seemed concerned about losing money through a divorce settlement to Michele.
Speaking to reporters outside the courthouse after the verdict was read, Keene said evidence that would have cleared at least one of the people the defense tried to pin the crime on was not admissible by the court.
That evidence was related to Michael Hakes, a co-worker of Michele's who the defense revealed in court - when the jury wasn't present - had been convicted of rape prior to Michele's disappearance. Keene said Thursday further evidence showed that Hakes had left Lefty's parking lot prior to Michele on Sept. 11, 2001 and spent the night with his girlfriend, who was interviewed by police three times. Even after the two broke up she stood by her story that Hakes was with her the entire night of Sept. 11, Keene said.
The jurors, six men and six women, left the courtroom within minutes after the verdict was read, many of them visibly shaken, at least two with tears in their eyes. The judge asked the deputies on scene to escort the jurors from the building.
The family of Michele and Calvin Harris remained in the courtroom for several moments after the judge told Calvin Harris he would be sentenced for his crime on Aug. 24. The maximum sentence Harris faces is 25 years to life.
One woman with the Harris party could be heard saying, Ã¢â‚¬Å“This is wrong,Ã¢â‚¬Â as she cried. A member of the Taylor family said softly, Ã¢â‚¬Å“No, this is justice.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Sheriff's deputies handcuffed an emotional and still crying Harris, leading him from the courtroom, past his family members who continued to console each other.
Outside the courthouse the Harris family walked quickly to their vehicles, past television cameras and broadcast media asking for comment.
Cawley shook his head in disbelief as he spoke to reporters, soft spoken and clearly puzzled by the verdict.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We're obviously disappointed. I don't know how they came to this, with all due respect to the jury and the prosecution,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The jury obviously took their time on making this decision.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Asked by a member of the press if it was true Calvin Harris had once hired a private investigator to find out who actually committed the crime or evidence of where Michele was, Cawley said it was true, but that for legal reasons this could not be introduced into evidence during the trial.
Greg Taylor Jr., the brother of Michele Harris, said he was pleased with the verdict, but that it wouldn't bring his sister home.
He said he hoped Michele's body could be found so the family could give her a proper burial and that Calvin Harris would be the one to tell police where she is.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He's taken so much from us. Hopefully he can have a little bit of compassion in his soul and tell us where she is,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Taylor.
Asked what he thought about Harris' emotion in the courtroom Taylor said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“He's going to jail. I'm sure he was disappointed.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Taylor added that he was confident the verdict would be guilty, especially after hearing Keene's closing arguments on Wednesday.
Speaking to the media after the verdict, Keene said he appreciated the patience of the family throughout the five year gap between Michele's disappearance and Calvin Harris' indictment by a grand jury. The district attorney said he took his time on filing charges against Harris partly because he didn't want the defense to be able to say, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Oh, well, how do we know she's not coming back?Ã¢â‚¬Â
As for an appeal, Keene said he doesn't believe the defense will be able to show that there were decisions made by the court against Harris. In fact, Keene said, there had been additional evidence that he had wanted to present regarding Harris' past to further boost the prosecution's case.
Keene said he does feel badly for the Harris children.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I hope that relatives will provide them with support and love and that they will be OK,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.
Posted 08 June 2007 - 07:31 AM
HARRIS TRIAL: Verdict surprises but pleases many in Owego
June 8, 2007
OWEGO -- The guilty verdict in the Calvin Harris trial Thursday was well received by people in the Village of Owego, many of whom spent the last two weeks discussing the trial as it unfolded.
"I think it's awesome," said Kimberly Crooks. "It's about time."
Crooks, 35, and her son Michael, 17, said they were pleased with the jury's verdict of guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Michele Harris, Calvin's estranged wife.
"He thought he had too much power and he could get away with it," Michael Crooks said.
While many believed in Harris' guilt, residents said, they weren't sure whether enough evidence existed for a jury to find him guilty.
"I thought he was (guilty), but I didn't think they'd (the jury) find him guilty," said Owego resident Cassaundra Gould.
The length of time between Michele's disappearance -- Sept. 11, 2001 -- and the trial made the prosecution's case difficult to prove, she said. Gould, 18, and her boyfriend spoke about the case Wednesday at length, Gould said, and both worried there wasn't enough evidence to convince a jury of Harris' guilt.
"I didn't think they had enough evidence because they didn't have a body," she said.
The end of the trial, Gould said, is a welcome retreat from the mania surrounding the trial.
"I'm glad to have my parking lot back," Gould said.
Owego resident Diana Shrauger, 59, said she's pleased and surprised by the jury's decision.
"I thought for sure they'd let him go," she said.
Her thoughts, Shrauger said, go to the family of Michele Harris, who likely will never know what caused her death.
"They are never going to find her body," Shrauger said.
For Owego resident Betty Babcock, the trial is another traumatic experience for Michele and Calvin Harris' four children. Not only did the children lose their mother six years ago, she said, they now have to live with the loss of their father and the knowledge that he was found guilty of killing their mother.
"It's much too long for the children to go through that," Babcock, 80, said. "It's ruined the lives of four children."
Posted 23 August 2007 - 02:11 PM
Harris faces sentencing in slaying of his wife
Wealthy father of 4 to appear Friday in Owego courtroom
Nineteen days from the sixth anniversary of his wife's disappearance, Calvin Harris will be sentenced to prison for her murder.
The wealthy Tioga County businessman will appear Friday morning before Broome County Judge Martin E. Smith in Owego. Harris, 46, the father of four, is facing a minimum sentence of 15 years to life and a maximum of 25 years to life -- under New York's mandatory sentencing statutes -- for killing his wife.
The millionaire son of a rich and well-known family with multiple car dealerships and other businesses in the region could spend the rest of his life in a state prison, pending an appeal of his guilty verdict. Harris was convicted June 7 on one count of second-degree murder. A Tioga County jury deliberated a little less than four hours before finding him guilty.
Harris' attorney, Joseph F. Cawley Jr., declined comment on the sentencing. Tioga County District Attorney Gerald Keene on Wednesday did not return a telephone call.
The conviction followed 10 days of testimony detailing extra-marital affairs, Harris family feuds and alleged threats Calvin made to his wife, Michele Harris. Harris and his wife were in the midst of a bitter divorce, and although both had affairs, they continued to live together at their estate on Hagadorn Hill Road in the Town of Spencer.
Michele Harris was 35 when she disappeared the night of Sept. 11, 2001 -- the same day terrorist-piloted aircraft crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
The last person to see her alive was her 23-year-old boyfriend, who testified she left his apartment between 11 and 11:30 p.m. the night she disappeared. The boyfriend lived just 20 minutes from the mansion Michele shared with Calvin Harris and their four young children. Her mini-van was found abandoned at the foot of the couple's driveway early the next morning.
Her body -- and a murder weapon -- have never been found.
But state police investigators found specks of her blood on and around a door leading from the kitchen/foyer in the Harris house to the garage. They also found evidence that her blood had been wiped from the floor of the garage. A kitchen throw rug also contained what turned out to be Michele Harris' blood, testimony revealed.
Testimony from a Harris family member also detailed an alleged threat Calvin Harris made to Michele that he wouldn't need a gun to kill her and he could hide her body where it would never be found.
Calvin Harris' attorneys argued that Michele's boyfriend had a motive to kill her and that she had no intention of marrying him, something he'd hoped for, he testified.
In the eight months before she disappeared, Michele Harris often spent her evenings at taverns in the region, while the children stayed at home with their father, witnesses testified.
Posted 02 November 2007 - 02:23 AM
Judge Schedules Friday Announcment In Cal Harris Case
Nov 1, 2007
New information on the Cal Harris Murder case.
Action News has learned Judge Martin Smith has scheduled an announcement for Friday afternoon, at 1:15 at the Tioga County Courthouse in Owego.
Harris was convicted of killing his wife Michele, who disappeared in 2001.
His attorney has asked the Judge to throw out the indictment or conviction, after a new witness came forward.
Friday, Judge Smith could make his decision, that could delay sentencing again, move sentencing forward or throw the case back to square one.
Again, Judge Martin Smith has scheduled a court announcement for Friday afternoon.
Posted 02 November 2007 - 05:07 PM
BREAKING NEWS: Harris Murder Conviction Thrown Out
Judge Martin Smith has set aside Cal Harris' murder conviction and ordered a new trial.
Harris had previously been found guilty of murder in the 2001 disappearance of his wife, Michelle.
The decision came after a witness came forward who said he saw Michelle Harris a day Harris was alleged to have murdered her.
Judge Smith set bail for Harris at $500,000, and Harris has already been released from Tioga County Jail.
No date has been set for the new trial.
Posted 02 November 2007 - 05:09 PM
Cal Harris is free man for now
Updated: 11/2/2007 3:59 PM
By: Karen Lee
"We're very relieved and believe me, his four children will be very thrilled," said Merry Harris, his relative.
Cal Harris' friends and family thrilled that his murder conviction was dismissed and he'll be a granted a new trial. But for Michele Harris' family:
"This is harder for them than anyone else. What this means is that what was a closed book for them is now reopened. It's like reopening a wound. They have to keep this thing open," said Gerald Keane, the Tioga County district attorney.
The man responsible for the newest twist in Cal Harris' fate: Kevin Tubbs. Two months after Harris was convicted of second-degree murder, Tubbs came forward and said he saw Michele hours after she disappeared. The judge based his decision on this testimony, saying he believes jury members may have changed their decision if they had heard the testimony earlier.
"It took a lot for Mr. Tubbs to come forward, for Kevin to come forward. He's been under a lot of scrutiny. The judge fully credits his testimony, his mom's and his dad's testimony so we're very confident that this will withstand any appeal that's taken by the people," said Joseph Cawley, Cal Harris' defense attorney.
"I don't think that you can see things like skin tone and facial expression in the pitch dark. I don't think that you're going to sit on that information in a community this size for six years and then come forward after the verdict that was rendered," said Keane.
The DA now has 30 days to appeal. If the appellate court agrees with the judge's decision, the case will be tried again. No date has been set as of yet but defense attorneys say they'll try to bring it out of Tioga County next time around.
Posted 02 November 2007 - 05:12 PM
Man convicted of wife's murder to get new trial
3:49 PM EDT, November 2, 2007
OWEGO, N.Y. (AP) _ A judge ordered a new trial for a wealthy Southern Tier businessman convicted of killing his estranged wife.
Broome County Judge Martin Smith, presiding in the case, dismissed a second-degree murder conviction against 46-year-old Calvin Harris on Friday because a surprise witness came forward after his trial who said he believed he saw Michele Harris hours after she was supposedly killed by her husband.
Harris will be released on $500,000 bail, the same amount set before his trial. A new trial date was not immediately scheduled.
Harris was supposed to be sentenced Aug. 24 and faced up to 25 years to life in state prison.
But Kevin Tubbs, 33, of Candor, came forward as a surprise witness and testified in Tioga County Court that he remembered seeing Michele Harris with a young man in her driveway on Sept. 12 hours after the time prosecutors said Harris killed her in their home. Defense attorney Joseph Cawley Jr. requested a new trial based on Tubbs' testimony.
Harris, who owns a string of car dealerships, was convicted in June of killing his 35-year-old wife while their four young children were asleep upstairs in their Town of Spencer home in September 2001. Her body has never been found. Harris was not indicted in his wife's death until September 2005.
Calvin and Michele Harris were in the midst of a bitter divorce and both had affairs, witnesses said. During the trial, Harris was portrayed as a controlling husband who killed his wife to avoid paying her large sums in a divorce settlement.
Posted 08 November 2007 - 06:10 PM
A Look Inside "A Time To Kill"
YouNewsTVStory Created: Nov 8, 2007 at 6:37 PM EST
By Candace Chapman
6 years later and still a mystery.
What happened to 35 year Michele Harris of Tioga County.
The CBS program "48 Hours Mystery" will explore the case this Saturday.
Action News spoke with reporter Erin Moriarity to bring you an inside look at "A Time To Kill."
"Tioga County in Upstate New York. When I say Norman Rockewell at its best, I mean that, it's a small rural community."
"A murder in Tioga County, it's pretty rare."
"What about a disappearance? Even more so."
"Why the title for this piece, A Time To Kill?"
"A number of people raise the question. It's kind of really a question we've raised, whether 9/11 was a time that was kind of a cover use for someone doing away with Michele," says reporter Erin Moriarty.
"Cal Harris denied he had anything to do with Michele's disappearance."
"I think most people believe that she is dead. Um, of course it doesn't necessarily mean who killed her," says Moriarty.
"Compare this mystery to others you've worked on as far as twists and turns and ultimately, a missing and supposed victim."
"In terms of twists and turns, I don't think there's another case like this. One of the reasons why we picked this particular case was because it was a bodyless prosecution, there was very little evidence. We tend to pick hours like that because we take a look at the evidence, both pro and con, what exists and what doesn't exist," says Moriarty.
"In fact in this particular case, we have things in the hour that I don't think have really been reported," says Moriarty.
And what makes that a little more provocative is we usually air this when the trial is over and we thought we were, but as we all know the trial is over, yet its not over," says Moriarty.
Posted 23 November 2007 - 04:34 PM
Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since: September 11, 2001 from Owego, New York
Classification: Endangered Missing
Date Of Birth: September 29, 1965
Age: 35 years old
Height and Weight: 5'2, 100 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian female. Blonde hair, brown eyes. Michele has a tattoo of a flaming sun on her right ankle. Her ears are pierced. She has had breast augmentation. Some agencies spell her first name "Michelle." Michele may use the last name Taylor. Her nickname is Shelly.
Clothing/Jewelry Description: Khaki shorts; white sneakers; a gold and silver Rolex watch; numerous rings, bracelets and earrings; two chain necklaces, one with a religious pendant on it; and a navy blue polo shirt. The shirt has a collar with red stripes and white stripes, red and white stripes on the left sleeve band, white stars on the right sleeve band, and a red and white-striped Lefty's logo with a white star imprinted on the front.
Details of Disappearance
Michele resided on a 252-acre estate on Hagadorn Road in Owego, New York in 2001. She was in the process of divorcing her husband, Calvin Harris, at the time of her disappearance; she had filed for divorce eight months' previously. A photograph of Calvin is posted below this case summary. Michele and Calvin have four children together, ranging in age from two to seven years old, and the family was residing at the same house. Michele's attorney said that she had obtained an order of protection from Calvin while they continued to live together. It prohibited any mental or physical abuse. The divorce was described as complicated. Michele had sexual relationships with several other men while she was married to Calvin, and Calvin had been unfaithful as well.
Michele's attorney stated that she feared the power of Calvin and her in-laws, as they owned several car dealerships in the local region and are considered a prominent business family. Her lawyer also said that the divorce would be finalized soon and Michele would be financially secure for the rest of her life. Calvin had offered her custody of their children and $80,000 a year for the next ten years. Michele's loved ones said that she was looking forward to a fresh start with her children. She had taken a job at Lefty's, a restaurant in the 400 block of Broad Street in Waverly, New York, and sometimes went to bars after work. Calvin told family members and the police that Michele was drinking heavily and possibly using cocaine around the time of her disappearance, but Michele's relatives and friends deny that she ever drank to excess or used illegal drugs. Her boss describes her as an ideal employee who was well-liked by her coworkers and restaurant patrons.
Michele planned to visit New York City on September 13 and 14. She told Calvin she planned to meet a former classmate from the State University of New York at Morrisville, where she'd gotten an associate's degree in business administration. Michele told others, however, that she was going to New York City to pawn some of her jewelry, including her Rolex watch and two-carat diamond engagement ring. She was having some financial problems at the time. Calvin was ordered to cover all the household expenses, mortgage and bills and to give Michele $400 a week in spending money, but she had run up $16,000 in credit card bills and owed $1,000 to her children's babysitter.
Michele spent the day of September 11, 2001 with her family. She worked her evening shift and departed from the establishment at 9:30 p.m. She visited a friend in Barton, New York and left the friend's home at 11:30 p.m. She never arrived at her own home and has not been heard from again.
Michele's minivan, a gold 2000 Ford Winstar with New York dealer plates, was discovered abandoned on September 12 by the Harris family housekeeper. It was on the road shoulder near the entrance to the Harris property in the vicinity of the 300 block of Hagadorn Hill Road in Spencer, New York. They keys were still in the ignition. An extensive search of the area produced no clues as to Michele's whereabouts. There has been no activity on her cellular phone, bank accounts, or credit cards since her disappearance. Tiny drops of Michele's blood were found in the kitchen and garage of her home.
In 2005, four years after Michele's disappearance, Calvin was charged with murder in connection with her case. A judge threw out the murder indictment in early 2007, citing flaws in the grand jury proceedings. Calvin was re-indicted on the same charge less than a month later. He was convicted of second-degree murder in June 2007. However, in November 2007, a judge overturned the conviction and ordered another trial. The judge based his decision on the testimony of a surprise witness, who came forward after Calvin's conviction and claimed to have seen Michele alive, hours after Calvin supposedly killed her. Calvin is awaiting his second trial in his wife's presumed death.
Foul play is suspected in Michele's disappearance due to the circumstances involved.
Above: Calvin Harris in 2007
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
New York State Police
Bureau Of Criminal Investigation
Posted 04 September 2008 - 10:50 AM
Calvin Harris timeline
September 4, 2008
* January: Michele Harris files for divorce from husband Calvin Harris.
* Sept. 11: Michele Harris leaves work in Waverly about 9:30 p.m. and stops at her boyfriend's house. She leaves there about 11:30 p.m.
* Sept. 12: Michele Harris is reported missing by her attorney, who was contacted by one of Michele's female friends. State police investigate.
* Sept. 30: Calvin Harris is indicted by a Tioga County grand jury on one count of second-degree murder in the disappearance of Michele Harris.
* July 27: Trial is postponed at the request of Calvin Harris' attorney, Joseph F. Cawley Jr. Tioga County District Attorney Gerald Keene hands over more than 12,000 documents on the eve of the trial.
* Aug. 24: Cawley asks the indictment be dismissed on the grounds the grand jury proceedings were improper.
* Sept. 11: The original trial date.
* Dec. 15: Tioga County Judge Vincent Sgueglia tells Cawley and Keene he will dismiss the murder indictment against Calvin Harris.
* Dec. 18: Keene asks Sgueglia to recuse himself from the case for showing what Keene alleged was favoritism toward Harris and Cawley. Sgueglia denies the accusation, but steps down from the case.
* Dec. 19: Broome County Judge Martin E. Smith is appointed by state officials to preside over the case.
* Jan. 28: Smith throws out the DA's murder indictment. In a court order, Smith said Keene asked Sgueglia to recuse himself to stop the judge from throwing out the murder indictment. But Smith gives Keene permission to submit the case to another grand jury.
* Feb. 26: Calvin Harris is re-indicted on a single count of second-degree murder.
* May 21: The trial begins in Tioga County Court with jury selection.
* May 23: The prosecution begins its case against Calvin Harris.
* June 4: Keene rests his case after nine days of testimony from about 50 witnesses.
* June 5: Cawley rests the defense's case after calling two witnesses -- a blood expert who disputed claims of a prosecution expert, and a friend of Calvin Harris.
* June 6: Jury deliberations begin.
* June 7: A jury finds Harris guilty of second-degree murder. Kevin Tubbs reads a newspaper story about Calvin Harris that said Michelle Harris was last seen Sept. 11. Tubbs thinks he saw her on the 12th. He contacts Cawley.
* June/July: Cawley files a motion, asking Judge Smith to overturn the guilty verdict, citing Tubbs' claim.
* Aug. 24: Harris is scheduled to be sentenced. Kevin Tubbs and his mother Gloria Tubbs testify. Tubbs says he saw a woman he believed was Michele Harris and a man in his 20s standing next to a pickup truck near the entrance to the Harrises' driveway about 5:30 a.m. Sept. 12, 2001, some six hours after Calvin Harris supposedly killed his wife. Judge Smith postpones the sentencing.
* Oct. 7: Ashley Tubbs, the estranged wife of Kevin Tubbs, tells a state police investigator Tubbs told her he was "never going to have to worry about money again if Cal gets off." In her statement to police, Ashley Tubbs, 24, said her husband said the defense "would take care of him."
* Oct. 17: Keene files a motion presenting Ashley Tubbs' statement to police. Cawley denies the accusation.
* Oct. 23: Ashley Tubbs tells the Press & Sun-Bulletin state police "twisted" her statement in order to discredit Kevin Tubbs.
* Oct. 26: Smith rules that Ashley Tubbs' statements about the allegedly promised payoff are inadmissible.
* Nov. 2: Smith throws out Harris' murder conviction, setting him free on $500,000 bail. A new trial is ordered.
* Nov. 6: Cawley is elected to a Broome County judgeship, ending his role in the Harris case. William Easton, a Rochester attorney, takes over as lead attorney.
* Feb. 27: Keene files an appeal with the Third Department's appellate court in Albany asking the court to overrule Judge Smith and reinstate the jury's guilty verdict against Calvin Harris.
* Sept. 4: Keene and Easton will argue their positions today before the appellate court in Albany. Appeals court decisions generally take about two months before judges issue decisions.
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