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10-14-08, 04:31 PM #1
Boy, 12, Accused Of Killing Neighbor Gets $2.2M Settlement
CLEVELAND -- A man charged as a 12-year-old with killing a 5-year-old neighbor has settled his civil rights lawsuit against the Ohio prosecutor who handled the case.
Anthony Harris is now a 22-year-old Marine. He settled his federal suit against Tuscarawas County and Prosecutor Amanda Spies for $2.2 million.
A Juvenile Court judge had ruled Harris was responsible for the 1998 killing of Devan Duniver near their New Philadelphia homes south of Canton.
An appeals court overturned the conviction and said Harris' confession had been coerced. The day Harris left jail in 2000, the prosecutor said she felt Harris was the killer.
An attorney for the prosecutor and the county says insurance companies wanted to settle.
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10-14-08, 05:45 PM #2
A more detailed article.....sounds a little like the Stephanie Crowe case here.
NEW PHILADELPHIA -- Anthony Harris settled his civil rights lawsuit against Tuscarawas County and Prosecutor Amanda Spies for $2.2 million, ending an ordeal that began 10 years ago when Harris was charged with killing a 5-year-old girl.
Harris is now a 22-year-old U.S. Marine with a tour in Iraq under his belt. But he still carries the emotional scars of his experience with the law, which included spending the better part of two years in jail as a juvenile, said his attorney Dan Warren.
Initially, a juvenile judge ruled that Harris, then 12, was responsible for the killing of Devan Duniver in the woods near their homes. An appeals court overturned the conviction, however, after it was determined that Harris's confession had been coerced.
Harris, who had never been in trouble with the law, endured a relentless, manipulative grilling by a police officer trained to interrogate hardened criminals, according to the lawsuit.
The matter didn't end there. The day Harris left jail in June of 2000, Spies told the media that "in my heart and in my gut, I feel Anthony Harris is responsible for the murder of Devan Duniver."
The murder charge continued to haunt him.
The Marines initially rejected him when he tried to enlist after Spies told a recruiter that Harris would always be a suspect in the murder. Harris filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against Spies and others in 2003, claiming malicious prosecution and other violations of his civil rights.
Harris settled his suit with several of the defendants, including police officials in New Philadelphia and Millersburg, but Judge John Adams determined Spies couldn't be sued because she had acted reasonably within the course of her duties. Harris appealed that ruling to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which overturned the ruling in January.
The federal appeals court determined there was no probable cause for Harris to be arrested and that "any reasonable prosecutor in Spies' position would have known, after listening to the tape of the confession, that it was involuntary as a matter of law and thus untrustworthy."
An investigation showed that not only was Harris' confession coerced, but that Spies ignored evidence that pointed to other suspects, including the drug-addicted boyfriend of Devan's mom, who had once kidnapped Devan and beaten her with a belt.
The civil rights trial was set to begin in U.S. District Court on Oct. 20, Warren said, but both sides agreed to settle. The defendants decision to settle was made by a collection of companies that insure Tuscarawas County, said Thomas Amato, one of the attorneys representing Spies and the county.
"We stood ready to try the case as did the prosecutor," Amato said.
Still, his clients consider the $2.2 million settlement an "excellent result," he said, given that verdict research indicated a jury award could have ranged between $5 million and $10 million, not including attorneys fees.
Warren, who represented Harris for free on his criminal appeal, declined to discuss his fee from the civil suit.
Spies, a long-time prosecutor in Tuscarawas County, is up for re-election next month.
A special prosecutor is still investigating the slaying of Devan Duniver, Amato said. The findings so far have been sealed by a Tuscarawas County judge.Molly Weasley makes Chuck Norris eat his vegetables.
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