Sammie Elton Harris, 86, Jerico Springs, again faces four felony charges including 1st degree murder in a complaint which Cedar County Prosecutor Rick Pohlsander filed Oct. 22, 2012.
On Dec. 30, 2010, retiring Cedar County Associate Circuit Judge Joe Burl Phillips, dismissed all charges against Harris for the April 20, 2010, shotgun shooting death of his stepson, Joseph Patton Cox, 36, in Harris’ yard during an argument.
Judge Phillips said in his Dec. 30 decision, that after a preliminary hearing during the summer of 2010, he found no probable cause to believe any felonies were committed.
The refilling of the charges is possible because Harris did not go to trial before a jury. When Rick Pohlsander became the Cedar County Prosecutor in January 2011, he told the Sun then that he might have to look at the case because a murder had been committed.
An April 12, 2012, probable cause statement by State Trooper Sgt. Daniel F. Nash, says that during the April 20, 2010, incident, “Cox, who was working on his vehicle in Harris’ yard got into a disturbance with his girlfriend and that Harris had interjected himself into this verbal disturbance. Harris and Cox began cursing one another and Harris told Cox to give him back his tools he had borrowed and to leave his property.”
“Cox began to remove Harris’ tools from his vehicle and throw them on the ground. Harris told Cox he was tired of how he treated him and advised he should just kill him. Cox replied, ‘Go ahead, old man, kill me.’ ”
“Cox continued to work on a vehicle that was parked in the front yard while Harris walked to his house, retrieved a shotgun and then exited his residence with the weapon. Harris began to walk toward Cox who began to yell at Harris. Both were cursing one another. Amos D. Miller who was working on the vehicle with Cox, attempted to get between the two men, but was thrown to the side by Cox. Harris fired the shotgun striking Cox in the chest and killing him. The wadding from the shotgun blast struck Miller in the arm causing minor injuries.”
The charges against Harris are 1st degree murder, armed criminal action and for the injury to Miller, assault- 2nd degree and armed criminal action.
Associate Circuit Judge Dennis Reaves was assigned to the case. At the arraignment on Oct. 24, Judge Reaves released Harris on his own recognizance “finding that the defendant is not a flight risk or threat to others in the community.”