Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published April 1, 2014 at 5:59 AM | Page modified April 1, 2014 at 12:15 PM

  • Share:
           
  • Comments (3)
  • Print

Kansas man accused in guitar string decapitation

A Kansas man accused of beheading another man with a guitar string three years ago and keeping his head has pleaded not guilty to premeditated first-degree murder.


Most Popular Comments
Hide / Show comments
Ew, ew, ew.... This sounds like something from CSI or some other crime show. Yuck. ... MORE
He should claim the murder was his religious right. MORE
Wonder if he used his g-string? MORE

advertising

LYNDON, Kan. —

A Kansas man accused of beheading another man with a guitar string three years ago and keeping his head has pleaded not guilty to premeditated first-degree murder.

James Paul Harris, 29, is accused of garroting 49-year-old James Gerety, of Topeka, in March or April of 2011 and keeping Gerety's head for some sort of religious reason, prosecutors allege. Harris entered his plea Monday, and his trial is set to begin June 23, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported (http://bit.ly/Pdvdij ).

During a preliminary hearing March 14, Harris' former girlfriend, Bobbie Williams, testified that he told her he shot Gerety in the stomach, tortured him for two days and then cut off his head. Topeka police Detective Brian Hill testified that that Williams told him that Harris kept the head in a canvas bag so he could talk to it as part of some religious ritual.

Harris' lawyer, James Campbell, stressed that his client has not been convicted of the crime and intends to exercise all of his rights accordingly, including going to trial in June.

"My client, as we sit here today, is innocent until the government shows sufficient proof that he is guilty," Campbell told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Thomas Henderson, an attorney who handled Gerety's Social Security payments, testified at the March hearing that he reported Gerety missing in April 2011 after he failed to pick up his payments. Henderson said Gerety planned to live with Harris in Carbondale, 18 miles south of Topeka.

According to police, Shirley Johnson, who lives with Harris' father in rural Carbondale in Osage County, testified that she found the top of Gerety's skull on March 24, 2012, while she was out searching for mushrooms. She said she brought it inside and showed it to Harris' father, who called police.

Osage County Attorney Brandon Jones said Tuesday that testimony from witnesses in March indicated that Harris buried and then reburied the body and the section of skull was found on top of grass near his father's home. The rest of Gerety's body hasn't been recovered.

Harris was in federal custody on unrelated charges when a warrant was issued in October 2013 and he was placed on hold for Kansas authorities. In January, Harris filed a request to have the hold resolved and he was booked into the Osage County jail in March for court proceedings.

___

Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, http://www.cjonline.com



Want unlimited access to seattletimes.com? Subscribe now!

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►