Attorneys React To Third Cal Harris Trial

By Kelly McCarthy

October 19, 2012 Updated Oct 19, 2012 at 1:55 PM EDT

Owego, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Action News speaks to both attorneys in Cal Harris' previous two trials, and how they are moving forward with a third.

Harris' Defense Attorney William Easton says he feels heartened that the Court of Appeals agreed that Cal Harris did not receive a fair trial.

Tioga District Attorney Gerald Keene says he's disappointed, and sorry for the witnesses and family who have to go through the process all over again.

"I feel bad for them because it's a real emotional process, a lot of stress and a lot of worrying and very emotional for them to have to go through this a third time," said Keene.

Keene has prosecuted Harris now twice for murder.

Michele Harris disappeared in September of 2001.

Keene has argued in two previous trials that Harris killed her at their home in Spencer.

Her body has never been found, but evidence relied heavily on DNA.

Keene says it's important to note the appeals court found that the verdict was based on legally sufficient evidence.

The juror in question was never selected to hear the case, but under New York State law the fact that she was not dismissed on cause and forced the defense to use one of their peremptory challenges, it is considered a reversible error.

"It doesn't get any more serious than a murder conviction, that if you're going to convict someone of murder and have a sentence where they could spend the rest of their life in jail you have to expect that everything is going to be done perfect, you've got to dot all the I's and cross all the T's, and if we missed a few of the I's in this case and the defendant is entitled to another trial, then he gets another trial," said Keene.

Defense Attorney William Easton who says Cal Harris will be released from state prison and return to Tioga County jail.

Then the trial court Judge will decide if he can be released on bail, which is what happened to Harris after the first two appeals.

Tioga District Attorney Gerald Keene is running for Tioga County Judge.

If a new trial date is set before the end of the year.

Keene says he is ready to try the case for a third time.

If Keene wins the election and the trial date is set for next year, then whoever is appointed District Attorney will prosecute the case.

Keene anticipates the prosecution's case to stand.

"If there's an instruction that should have been given that wasn't given then that was an error that was made and we'll have to try the case a third time unfortunately," adds Keene.

"Of course the defendant doesn't have to present any case so I can't speak to what his intentions would be, whether he would call witnesses or not call witnesses but from the prosecution stand point our case would be pretty much the same witnesses," said Keene.

The Appeals court did not order a change of venue but said it should strongly be considered based on the high profile case and the potential difficulty of finding an impartial jury.

Easton says he will seek to have Harris tried outside of Tioga County.

But Keene says he still believes a fair jury can be found even a third time.

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