MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama appeals court Friday sided with a judge who rejected the appeal of a man convicted of murder and sentenced to die for the shooting deaths of six people on a farm in southwestern Alabama nearly two decades ago.
The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals upheld a Crenshaw County judge’s decision refusing a challenge by Westley Devone Harris, 41, who was convicted of using guns to slaughter his girlfriend’s family members one-by-one before abducting her in 2002.
The dead included the parents, grandmother and three brothers of Janice Ball, who was 16 at the time and became the state’s main witness against her one-time boyfriend.
Harris claimed a judge should have stepped aside from the case and his own lawyer did a poor job defending him, but the appeals court disagreed.
The court also turned aside claims of juror misconduct during Harris’ trial, including an allegation that two white jurors made racist comments while deliberating the charges against Harris, who is Black. Harris didn’t identify the jurors who made the alleged comments, the court ruled.
Harris was convicted of the killings in 2005.