The murder trial of a retired Fillmore real-estate agent has been delayed until June to give defense attorneys time to review a report prepared by a blood spatter expert.
The trial of Larry Ross Harmon, 57, was originally scheduled for November, but 4th District Judge Boyd L. Park continued the trial until Feb. 12 because a report from a Florida blood spatter expert was not ready.Prosecutors received the report last week, but Park said Harmon's attorneys don't have time to respond by the Feb. 12 trial date. At a hearing Friday in Provo, Park rescheduled the trial to June 24.
"I don't want to try this case again so let's get it on an equal basis," Park told Millard County Attorney Dexter Anderson.
Harmon is charged with murder, a first-degree felony, in the gunning down of Douglas Greer, 27, on May 22 on a mountain road east of Fillmore. Harmon also faces a charge of attempted murder, a second-degree felony, in the wounding of Raymond Oliver Thomas, 20.
Thomas testified at a preliminary hearing that he and Greer were four-wheeling in the foothills about five miles east of Fillmore when they became stuck in mud near Harmon's remote cabin home. Seeking assistance, they knocked on Harmon's door but got no answer. As they were walking away, Harmon opened the door and accused them of trespassing, he said.
Thomas testified that as he and Greer were walking down the road, Harmon drove up in his pickup and again accused the two of trespassing. This time, however, Harmon had a handgun. After the three exchanged a few words, Harmon allegedly shot Greer in the head. As Thomas fled, he was shot once in the upper left arm. Thomas said he hid in the trees until he heard Harmon drive away and then he hiked to his sister's home in Fillmore. He was treated at a local hospital and released.
Harmon called 911 from his cabin using a cellular phone and reported the shooting. Millard County Sheriff Ed Phillips drove to the area, found Greer dead on the road and Harmon waiting at his gate. Millard County investigators said the shootings took place a half-mile from Harmon's gate on county property.
Edward Brass, Harmon's attorney, said the killing was in self-defense. At trial, he will try to prove that Harmon was concerned about his safety because Greer was walking toward him. Anderson said the state's expert will testify that Greer was not moving when the fatal shot was fired.
"As far as the state is concerned, there is nothing in this case that justifies a self-defense argument whatsoever," Anderson said.
Prosecutors opposed the continuance, saying the defense has known about the expert witness since September. Brass said the trial will not be fair if a defense expert is not allowed time to review the prosecution's report.
"I don't want to fight this fight with one hand tied behind my back," Brass said.
Park agreed with Brass, ruling the defense needs to time to prepare a rebuttal to the state's expert witness.
"You don't just go out and both grab your own expert," Park said.
Another pretrial hearing is scheduled for June 11 where Park will rule on several other motions. Brass wants to exclude a breath test administered to Harmon and statements made during the test. He also wants a video tape of the crime scene excluded. The trial will be held in Fillmore. Harmon remains free on $50,000 bail.