Breaking News Emails
Prosecutors trying to pin a murder conviction on a New York millionaire accused of killing his estranged wife are trying again — for a fourth time.
The fourth trial of businessman Calvin Harris got underway with jury selection Monday in Schoharie, New York, the Associated Press reported.
Harris, who has steadfastly maintained his innocence, was convicted twice of killing estranged wife Michele Harris some 15 years ago — and both times the verdicts were overturned. His last trial ended last May when the jury deadlocked and a mistrial was declared.
DATELINE: The Mystery at Empire Lake
Once again, Harris' defense team is expected to try and implicate two Texas men — Stacey Stewart and Christopher Thomason — in Michele Harris' disappearance. They have described a bra strap and pieces of fabric found in a burn pit on property Stewart owned as "corroborative" evidence.
Stewart's property is about seven miles from the Harris' home in Spencer, New York. And he was regular at Lefty's, a restaurant in Waverly, New York, where the victim was working as a waitress.
No DNA evidence, however, was found in the ashes, prosecutors contend.
In fact, neither Michele Harris' body nor a murder weapon has been found.
The Harris', who have four children, were sleeping in separate beds and in the midst of a bitter divorce when the 35-year-old mom vanished while the nation was reeling from the 9/11 attacks.
Her mini-van was found in the driveway of the family estate on Sept. 12, 2001 with the keys in the ignition — but she was gone.
Relying mostly on circumstantial evidence and some blood stains found in the family home, prosecutors convinced a jury in 2007 that Harris was guilty of second-degree murder. That conviction was set aside when a surprise witness came forward who said he saw Michele Harris arguing with a man shortly before she disappeared.
Prosecutors won a second guilty verdict in 2009. But that was overturned as a result of trial-court errors.
Jurors in the third trial last year failed to reach a verdict after 11 days of deliberations.
"I didn't have anything to do with Michele's disappearance, one day I hope one day to able to prove that to everyone's satisfaction," Harris said after thanking his four kids for standing by him.
Harris also pleaded with prosecutors and his missing wife's family to stop trying to convict him. "You have been pursuing the wrong person," he said.