Jury Hands Down Conviction

Demery found guilty of second-degree murder

Abby Morris
Star Staff

   After a relatively short deliberation, the jury in the trial of accused killer Timothy Lee Demery handed down a guilty verdict on the charge of second-degree murder Thursday.
   Demery, 27, who had originally been charged with first-degree murder in the March 2002 shooting death of David Harmon, was silent as the jury announced the verdict.
   In a trial that lasted four days with more than 60 items submitted as evidence, after approximately two hours, the jury convicted Demery of second-degree murder and imposed a fine of $50,000.
   Demery is scheduled for a sentencing hearing on June 11 when he could be sentenced to anywhere from 15 to 25 years in prison based on the fact that he is considered a "Range 1" offender, having only one previous felony conviction, according to Assistant District Attorney Ken Baldwin, who prosecuted the case. Court records show that Demery was convicted of vandalism over $1,000 in March 1999, assault in September 1999 and vandalism under $500 in November 1999.
   Following the verdict, defense attorney Robert Oaks said that neither he nor Demery have any plans to appeal the case. "At this particular time, Mr. Demery is pleased with the verdict in light of the fact that, had he been convicted of first-degree murder, it would essentially have been a life sentence," Oaks said. "Mr. Demery loves his daughter very much and is looking forward to being reunited with her sometime in the future."
   During the trial, both Demery and Oaks said the shooting of Harmon on March 14, 2002 was in self-defense, and Harmon and two other men had attacked Demery in his own home. "The bottom line of the case is that it was never a planned event. It was never premeditated," Oaks said.
   "The jury decided on the issue of self-defense and we accept that."
   During his closing arguments in the case, Baldwin spoke to the jury about the length of the trial and the crime itself. "We have taken four days out of your life," Baldwin said. "All the days of David Harmon's life were taken away. All the days he could have spent with his two children. All the days he could have had the joy of a warm spring day after a harsh winter."
   Baldwin also told the jury why he thought the shooting of Harmon was a premeditated act. "That man right there, he put the 22 (caliber rifle) down and got the other gun," Baldwin said as he pointed at Demery.
   "He had to think about that. He had to think about where the gun was. He had to think about where he was going to shoot him (Harmon)."
   During the trial, Baldwin said Demery was the one who fired the 16th and fatal shot at Harmon, hitting him right between the eyes from a distance of one to two feet, according to a forensic pathologist.
   Demery said Harmon had been in possession of the .25-caliber handgun that delivered the fatal shot, and, after Harmon ran into the bedroom when Demery shot him, the gun went off. Demery said he did not know how Harmon was shot between the eyes.
   During the defense's closing arguments, Oaks said the defense's position that the shooting was a matter of self-defense and that Demery had no motive for shooting Harmon intentionally.
   During the trial, the defense said that a few days prior to the shooting, a sum of $250 and 40 pills of Valium were stolen from the Demery residence and that Demery suspected John "Willie" Canova, a friend of Harmon's, took the money and the narcotics.
   Demery said on the witness stand Wednesday that on March 13, 2002 he called Harmon's pager in to get Canova to come to the residence because Harmon and Canova were frequently together. Demery said he planned to confront Canova about the stolen money.
   When Harmon arrived at the residence, Canova was not with him, so Demery and Harmon went inside and smoked marijuana laced with cocaine, Demery said on the stand. Later in the evening, the two argued about Demery wanting to fight Canova, and Demery and Harmon fought. During the struggle, Canova and another man kicked in the door of the residence, Demery said.
   A fight then ensued between Demery and Canova while Harmon tried to clear a jam from the .25-caliber handgun Demery showed him earlier in the evening.
   During the fight, Demery said he pushed Canova and the third man out the front door of the residence, and when he turned around, Harmon was still trying to clear the jammed cartridge from the firearm.
   Demery said he went into a bedroom and retrieved the .22-caliber rifle and ordered Harmon three times to put the gun down, and when he did not, he shot Harmon one time. Harmon then cleared the jam and attempted to raise the gun at Demery, who said he had no choice then but to "unload the gun" on Harmon.
   Because the jury returned a guilty verdict of second-degree murder instead of the original charge of first-degree murder, members of the jury must have considered the fact that the shooting of Harmon was in self-defense.
   State law defines first-degree murder as the "premeditated and intentional killing of another", while second-degree murder is defined as "the knowing killing of another."