Jury begins deliberations in Harmon-Wright trial
© Culpeper TimesThe jury is out in the Harmon-Wright trial which began last Tuesday.
At 2:20 p.m. on day five the jury of eight women and four men retired to the jury room to begin their deliberations. One juror asked, “How long do we have?”
Judge Susan L. Whitlock replied. “As long as it takes...there is no rush or pressure.”
The jury's decision must be unanimous in the case of the Commonwealth versus Daniel Harmon-Wright charged on four counts in the death of Patricia A. Cook on Feb. 9, 2012.
“Our job is done...this case uniquely belongs to you,” said special prosecutor Jim Fisher in his closing remarks as he encouraged the jurors to pay special attention to the “credibility of the witness.”
“Key to your deliberations is his [Daniel Harmon-Wright] credibility...do you believe him...do you accept in whole or in part what is being said when considered with other evidence?”
Fisher elaborated on a list of what he referred to as a 'catalog of inconsistencies' between Harmon-Wright's testimony on the stand and evidence presented.
Fisher disputes Harmon-Wright's claims of self defense in the fatal shooting of Patricia Cook that morning last February when he approached her in the parking lot annex of Epiphany Catholic School.
Responding to a 9-1-1 call, Harmon-Wright claims that Cook was uncooperative in relinquishing her drivers license, rolled up a window on his arm, attempted to sideswipe him as she left the parking lot and posed a danger to the community with her erratic driving while the windshield was covered with a sun visor.
After repeated attempts for her to stop what she was doing, Harmon-Wright felt compelled to shoot out the window (in order to free his arm) and continued shooting to 'eliminate the threat.'
Fisher contends that Harmon-Wright's actions were malicious, excessive, illegal, and constitute murder.
Seven bullets were fired at Cook's Jeep Wrangler that morning. Five hit her. Two proved fatal – the one to the back of the head and the other to her spine.
The prosecution is seeking murder in the first degree.
Daniel Hawes, attorney for Harmon-Wright, read his several page closing remarks stressing to the jury that they would need to sift through the evidence – none of which the defense feels can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
“Did he behave lawfully?” Hawes asked the jurors also emphasizing Harmon-Wright's repeated pleadings for her to stop or he would shoot.
“We pay cops and we give them guns to protect us...by doing what he did...he may have saved other lives...what he did worked,” said Hawes justifying Harmon-Wright's course of action as not only defending himself but also safeguarding the community.
Cook was, according to Hawes, a 'fleeing felon' as assaulting an officer is a felony as is leaving the scene of a crime. Cook was not unarmed in Hawe's argument. While a weapon was not found on Cook or in the vehicle, Hawes claims that her vehicle was used as a weapon.
“There is no evidence of malice,” said Hawes. “He had the right to use force...this is not unlawful or malicious.”
If found guilty, the jury has three options: 1) first degree murder, second degree murder or voluntary manslaughter.
The jury reconvenes at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 29.