Harris Gets 25 Years to Life

By WBNG News

July 22, 2010 Updated Oct 5, 2009 at 6:11 PM EDT

Cal Harris of Spencer will spend the next 25 years to life in prison in the death of his wife Michele.

A judge handed down the maximum sentence allowed by law.

Action News reporter Gabe Osterhout tells us what Cal told Tioga County Court before he learned his fate.

47 year old Cal Harris stood before Judge James Hayden, saying there are no words to describe his feelings.

Harris maintained that he did not kill his wife.

Harris was convicted of 2nd degree murder second time this summer.

His wife, Michele disappeared in in September, 2001.

Her body has never been found.

Harris was given a chance to speak before the judge read the sentence of 25 years to life.

He said he is a father and a human being.

Adding that his children deserve better.

Then he became emotional, paused, and went onto say he will fight to get his family back together again.

Harris also said if the case had been tried in a different county, he would have been found innocent.

The District Attorney disagrees.

"It was not the jurors that made the difference in this case, it was the evidence. It was good, strong circumstantial evidence of guilt and I think he would have been convicted regardless of where he was tried," says Tioga County District Attorney Gerald Keene.

Defense Attorney William Easton planned to immediately file appeals.

One involves a letter from a man that claimed to have seen Michele hours after prosecutors allege she was killed.

The letter was not allowed into evidence at the Harris Trial.

"An Appellate decision came down regarding the admission of evidence favorable to the defense. We think with the change of the law that came down during this trial, the affadavit from John Steele should have been admitted into evidence," Easton says.

Steele died before he could be questioned by attorneys.

It will be up to the State Appellate Court to decide if Harris will get another chance in court.

In Owego, Gabe Osterhout, WBNG-TV Action News.

In Tioga County Court, 2 motions filed by the defense after the verdict were denied.

One motion dealt with the letter from Steele.

The other motion asked the court to set aside the verdict because the court let the jurors go home during deliberations.

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