County man guilty of molesting girl, 7

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 17, 2000

For the second time in less than a week, a Warren County jury returned a guilty verdict in a sexual abuse trial.

Thursday morning, John Timothy Harris, 35, 1900 Baldwin Ferry Road, was found guilty of sexual battery of a 7-year-old girl.

“Thank God, this is finally over,” an aunt of the victim said after the verdict was read.

A week ago today, in Warren County Circuit Court, Raymond Friley Jr., 33, 101 Allendale Drive, was convicted of molesting a 9-year-old.

In this week’s trial the victim, now 8, was the first to take the stand Tuesday to start the three-day trial. She told the four-man, eight-woman jury that she was playing in the yard when she heard someone call her name. “It was John,” she said. The assault, on Oct. 9, 1999, followed in the back yard of his brother’s house, she said.

“He said if I told anyone he would do it again,” she said.

Then a first-grader, she said she didn’t say anything until later that night when she told her mother. The child’s mother, who died about a month ago, took her child to the emergency room, and the police were called.

Vicksburg attorney Eddie Woods, who represented Harris, said his client was nowhere near the little girl the day she was assaulted. The victim’s father also took the stand and said he didn’t believe John Harris abused his daughter.

“I think it happened, I just know it wasn’t him because he wasn’t at his brother’s house that day,” he said.

The father testified that he went to the house that afternoon to pick his daughter up after school.

“She was with me during the time she said he did this,” he said.

The jury deliberated for an hour and 15 minutes before returning a guilty verdict.

“This little girl had her childhood taken away,” said Assistant District Attorney Mike Bonner, who tried the case. “This was a difficult case for everyone but we are pleased with the verdict.”

Harris, who has two prior felony convictions, is facing life in prison if he is deemed a violent habitual offender. Otherwise, he is facing a minimum sentence of 20 years.

A sentencing date has not been set by Circuit Court Judge Frank Vollor. Harris will remain in the Warren County Jail, where he has been held since his arrest 10 days after the report.