In 4th Trial for Wife's Murder on 9/11, Man Not Guilty

Calvin Harris goes free
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 24, 2016 5:07 PM CDT
In 4th Trial for Wife's Murder, Man Found Not Guilty
Calvin Harris is overcome with emotion as he addresses the media outside Schoharie County Court after being found not guilty of murder on Tuesday, May 24, 2016 in Schoharie, NY.   (Andrew Thayer/Press & Sun-Bulletin via AP)

A wealthy man on trial for a fourth time since his estranged wife disappeared in 2001 was found not guilty of murder Tuesday, the AP reports. The ruling for Calvin Harris came almost eight weeks after Judge Richard Mott began hearing the nonjury trial. Harris' 35-year-old wife, Michele, disappeared on the night of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Prosecutors argued that Calvin Harris killed her when she came home to the Southern Tier estate they shared with their four children. A 2007 conviction against Harris was overturned when a new witness potentially helpful to the defense belatedly came forward. A second guilty verdict in 2009 was also overturned, due to trial-court errors. Jurors in the third trial last year failed to reach a verdict after 11 days of deliberations, resulting in a mistrial. Harris told reporters Tuesday that he was relieved that a long series of trials and imprisonments he described as abusive were finally over.

"We can now finally move forward and make plans in our lives as normal people do," he said. "But I can tell you there will be no celebration at our house tonight. There are no winners in this case. Everybody loses." Michele Harris' empty minivan was found the morning of Sept. 12, 2001, with the keys still in the ignition at the end of the couple's long driveway. Her body was never found, and prosecutors have relied on a largely circumstantial case, along with a small amount of blood stains found in the home. Calvin Harris, 55, was wealthy from his family's car dealerships, and court papers say he told people his wife would not get half his business as divorce loomed. Defense lawyers argued that authorities overlooked another suspect in the area from Texas as the couple's marriage broke up. Attorney Bruce Barket said after the verdict that they were still developing leads in Michele Harris' disappearance. He added that his client is considering suing authorities who pursued Harris for more than a decade. (More murder trial stories.)

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