Northeast Times

Harris gets 20 to 40 years for dog droppings killing

Tyri­rk Har­ris

Tyri­rk Har­ris had a prob­lem curb­ing his pets, but a Phil­adelphia judge had no prob­lem curb­ing Har­ris, the Ta­cony man who killed a neigh­bor last year in a dis­pute over dog drop­pings.

Com­mon Pleas Court Judge Bar­bara Mc­Der­mott on Fri­day ordered Har­ris to serve 20 to 40 years in state pris­on for shoot­ing an un­armed Frank­lin Manuel Santana to death on Valentine’s Day 2012. Mc­Der­mott said she was “ap­palled” by Har­ris’ be­ha­vi­or and re­jec­ted his pleas for le­ni­ency.

As­sist­ant Dis­trict At­tor­ney De­borah Wat­son-Stokes, the lead pro­sec­utor, and de­fense at­tor­ney James Be­rardinelli re­portedly both cited the sen­tence as fair con­sid­er­ing the cir­cum­stances.

The shoot­ing oc­curred on the porch of Har­ris’ house on the 6500 block of Tor­res­dale Ave. Santana, who lived on the same block, ap­proached Har­ris’ place at about 4 p.m. to com­plain that Har­ris, 28, had al­lowed his two dogs — a Ger­man shep­herd and a Chi­hua­hua — to de­fec­ate on Santana’s lawn, but Har­ris did not clean up the mess.

Har­ris greeted Santana, 47, with a gun strapped to his hip. They ex­changed angry words. Har­ris fired about a half-dozen shots at close range, wound­ing Santana in the face, neck, shoulder, back and left but­tocks area. Santana died at the scene.

At a Feb­ru­ary tri­al, Har­ris claimed he ac­ted in self-de­fense, that Santana had lunged for his 9-mil­li­meter pis­tol and a struggle en­sued. The de­fense also noted that Santana had a blood-al­co­hol con­tent of 0.137 soon after the shoot­ing.

“I didn’t in­tend to kill this man,” Har­ris test­i­fied.

But dur­ing a pre­lim­in­ary hear­ing last April, a wit­ness test­i­fied that the shoot­ing had erup­ted with little warn­ing. One mo­ment, Har­ris and Santana were speak­ing, or per­haps ar­guing, without any phys­ic­al con­tact. The next mo­ment, bul­lets were fly­ing, the wit­ness said.

Dur­ing the tri­al, Wat­son-Stokes ar­gued that the num­ber of shots fired demon­strated Har­ris’ in­tent to kill and that the case war­ran­ted a first-de­gree murder con­vic­tion. A jury ac­quit­ted Har­ris of the first-de­gree charge, but con­victed him of third-de­gree murder as well as pos­sess­ing an in­stru­ment of crime.

Har­ris, who had been laid off from a job as a pub­lic school po­lice of­ficer, was not li­censed to carry the gun. The jury ac­quit­ted him of mul­tiple weapons charges. Mc­Der­mott ordered Har­ris to serve 19-38 years in state pris­on for the murder, fol­lowed by one to two years for the pos­ses­sion con­vic­tion. •• 

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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