Shooting case conviction could give Dawn man 28 years

A judge found a Dawn man guilty on Thursday of all three charges against him in connection with a shooting in June 2013.

Wayne D. Harris, 58, could get up to 28 years in prison when sentenced in March. He is in the Pamunkey Regional Jail in Hanover County while awaiting sentencing for the shooting of Larry Jackson, 39, also of Dawn.

Judge Patricia Kelly found Harris guilty of malicious wounding, the use of a firearm in the malicious wounding and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Harris will return to Caroline County Circuit Court on March 26 for sentencing and he could get five to 20 years for malicious wounding and up to five years for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, said Tony Spencer, the commonwealth’s attorney for Caroline. The sentence for the use of a firearm in malicious wounding carries a mandatory sentence of three years, he noted.

At the end of the four-hour bench trial, the judge concluded that Harris’ attorney “failed to establish that his client had reasonable belief of imminent harm.”

The incident occurred on June 24, 2013 at the Dawn convenience store in Caroline County. Harris shot Jackson in the parking lot of the convenience store, while both men were sitting in their vehicles. The bullet entered the left side of Jackson’s chest, exited out of the right side of his chest, and lodged in his right arm, where it is still located.

The shooting victim was the first witness to testify against Harris. Jackson told the court that he had been shot by Wayne “Chico” Harris. “I destroyed his property and three weeks later he shot me,” Jackson said.

Approximately three weeks prior to the shooting, Jackson admitted to shooting out the back window of Harris’ vehicle while intoxicated. Jackson stated that he had used a pellet gun to shoot out the window.

Harris’ defense attorney argued that this was a matter of self-defense, and that Harris only shot Jackson because he feared for his own life. The crux of the case, according to the defense attorney, was whether the shooting was in self-defense or not.

According to Jackson’s testimony, Harris pulled up next to Jackson’s vehicle, demanded to know what Jackson was going to do about his blown out window, shot Jackson in his chest without waiting for a reply, and then immediately drove off.

Spencer entered into evidence several pictures that showed the entry and exit wounds to the victim, the blood stains on the victims clothing, and the victim’s vehicle.

Jackson admitted to the court that he and Harris had previously had “bad blood” between them. It was brought to the court’s attention that Jackson had pressed charges against Harris in the past, but he had then lied under oath so that Harris would not go to jail. The reason for his lying under oath, according to Jackson, was that he had wronged Harris first.

Investigator Scott Gershowitz of the Caroline County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) was the lead investigator in this case. Gershowitz played the surveillance tapes from the convenience store for the court.

The tapes showed Harris’ truck arriving at the scene, and leaving 6 seconds later. The tapes also showed Jackson walking around after the shooting with a cell phone, and when the first responders arrived on the scene.

Gershowitz read for the court excerpts from his interview with Harris after the shooting. During the interview, Harris told law enforcement that he did not recall what he had done on the day of the shooting. “I honestly can’t say; my mind isn’t good for memory things,” he had said.

When asked by Gershowitz if he was afraid of Jackson, Harris replied, “Yes, 100 percent. He’s crazy.” When asked if he was sorry for shooting Jackson, he replied, “Hell yeah!” When asked if he had shot Jackson, Harris replied that he wasn’t sure, but if he had, then Jackson deserved it.

Harris admitted to being addicted to crack cocaine during the time of the incident, and speculated that his drug use may have impaired his thinking that day.

After the shooting, Harris left the scene. CCSO officers found him at his home about four miles away the next day and took him into custody without incident.

Jackson was transported to Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond where he underwent surgery.

The defense attorney asked Gershowitz why, if Jackson had admitted to committing crimes against Harris, had Jackson himself not been arrested. The defense attorney went on to ask if the reason was that Jackson was working for the CCSO as an informant.

It was revealed later during the trial that Jackson might be facing criminal charges because of the damage he allegedly caused to Harris’ property.

Robert Hayward, a Caroline County emergency medical service worker, was the first emergency responder to reach the scene. Hayward testified that when he arrived, Jackson was “lying on the ground between the gas pumps and the street.” Hayward noted that while attending to Jackson he found no weapons of any kind or drugs of any kind on Jackson’s person or in his clothes.

Deputy Samuel Smith of the CCSO was the first deputy to arrive at the scene. Smith also testified that he did not find any guns, other weapons, or drugs at the scene during a search of the immediate area, which included trashcans at the store.

Gershowitz told the court that he had conducted a wide-perimeter search of the area around the store as well, and found no evidence of illegal substances or weapons.

Finally, Harris took the stand and gave his account of what had happened that day.

Harris, who has lived in Caroline for approximately 55 years, 10 of those years in Dawn, admitted to being a drug addict and a five-time convicted felon. All of Harris’ felony convictions are non-violent and drug related. His last conviction was in 2007.

Harris told the court that he had asked Jackson not to come to his house anymore because Jackson “didn’t know how to act” and would bully and push Harris around.  Harris noted that he had known Jackson for almost Jackson’s entire life because the man who had adopted Jackson had also been a very big influence on the community as a whole, and in Harris’ life as well.

Harris told the court that after he had told him not to come back to his house, Jackson did just that, three different times: once to holler obscenities and bang on the door, once to shoot at Harris’ house, and once more to shoot out the back window of Harris’ vehicle. Harris also noted his life had been threatened, “at least five times” by Jackson, and that “Larry is a dangerous guy.”

Charges may be brought against Jackson for his admitted criminal activities pending further investigation.

In other court news, Michael Bobrosky, 58, of Woodford, pleaded guilty to five felony charges related to an incident, which occurred Aug. 2, 2013.

Bobrosky was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, use of a firearm in commission of a felony, malicious wounding, possession of marijuana, and possession of a schedule one or two narcotic. Bobrosky will return for sentencing on April 9.

Posted on Thursday, January 9, 2014 at 7:38 pm