Boynton Beach police have arrested a 22-year-old man after he fired into a crowd on Christmas night. Juan Antonio Harris III will face one count of first-degree murder and three counts of aggravated battery with a firearm. The attack left one person dead and three seriously injured.
The suspect was brought to justice by witnesses who provided police with enough information to make the arrest. The shootings occurred near Sara Sims Park where a crowd of 400 to 500 people gathered for Christmas celebrations. Three victims were shot including one minor. They were transported to Delray Medical Center. The fourth victim died of a gunshot wound to the face. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Harris III was among three suspects caught on camera fleeing in vehicles. Harris was identified by one witness and confessed to the shooting while in custody. So his fate is sealed. He will be convicted of first-degree murder and three counts of aggravated battery with a firearm. He will never be allowed to leave state prison.
Witness testimony is a notoriously bad building block on which to build a case. When a defendant stands before the court, and the prosecution’s best evidence comes from eyewitness accounts, it makes it very easy for defense attorneys to simply undermine the witness’s credibility. However, in this case, police have surveillance video that appears to show Harris leaving with others.
Surveillance video makes its way into a large number of prosecutions nowadays, but it can be very difficult to make a positive ID on a specific person based on security feeds. Security feeds can, however, lead the way toward the suspect. In this case, the police likely have a license plate number that may or may not tie Harris III to the crime scene.
Harris III confessed to the shooting while in custody. If witness testimony and surveillance video were all the prosecution had, I’d say this case was far from settled. But even in prosecutions where confessions are coerced, it can be very difficult to convince a jury not to consider a confession in a trial. Ultimately, defense attorneys have more success petitioning the judge to throw out the confession because it was illegally coerced. Juries, on the other hand, once they’ve heard that a suspect has confessed to a crime, are very unlikely to acquit a suspect even when the nature of the confession is suspicious.
In this case, Harris III and his defense attorney will be hoping to plead down to life in prison without the possibility of parole. That’s because Harris III is facing the death penalty if convicted. Considering the nature of his crimes and the wanton indifference to life, capital punishment is not off the table.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
Unless prison sounds good to you, you should never confess to a crime until you’ve had a lawyer review your case. In this instance, the defendant is now facing the death penalty because he failed to recognize that witness testimony and surveillance aren’t proof-positive of guilt. Call the West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at The Skier Law Firm, P.A. today to learn more about how we can help.