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Harmon-Wright Found Guilty of Voluntary Manslaughter - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Harmon-Wright Found Guilty of Voluntary Manslaughter

Posted: Updated: Jan 29, 2013 09:40 PM EST

A five-year police officer in the town of Culpeper is guilty of three felonies, including voluntary manslaughter. 

He was also found guilty of unlawfully shooting into an occupied vehicle and involuntary manslaughter shooting into an occupied vehicle resulting in death. He was found not guilty of use of a firearm in commission of a felony.

Daniel Harmon-Wright left the courthouse in handcuffs Tuesday afternoon, escorted by armed bailiffs. In court, Harmon-Wright put his hands to his face as the verdicts were read aloud. His wife was crying, as was a female juror.

Special prosecutor Jim Fisher said he's satisfied with the jury's verdict in the case.

"I've always felt that self-defense was not supported by the evidence. So it has been an issue of the grade of homicide, so either murder - in the first or second degree - or manslaughter - voluntary or involuntary. And the jury has now spoken to that, so I stand by their verdict," he said.

The verdict came after five days of testimony and nine hours of deliberations. After the decision, Patricia Cook's brother spoke about moving forward.

"It vindicates her. What happened on that day should not have happened. There were a lot of things done incorrectly that day and I'm just pleased with the verdict and I'd like to move on from here," he said.

Culpeper Mayor Calvin Coleman issued the following statement Tuesday afternoon:

"The trial is over. The jury has spoken. The whole situation is a tragedy that gripped and, in some cases, divided our community."

He went on to say, "Now is the time to start the healing process. The men and women of the Culpeper Police Department are hard-working and should not be judged by the actions of a former officer."

Harmon-Wright had nothing to say as he was taken into custody. His defense attorney also left without talking to reporters.

The jury will come back Wednesday at 1 p.m. for sentencing. Harmon-Wright faces up to 25 years in prison.


 

The sentencing guidelines for the charges Harmon-Wright faces according to the Virginia Criminal Code are as follows:

  • Murder first-degree - 20 years to life
  • Murder second-degree - Five years to 40 years
  • Voluntary Manslaughter - One year to 10 years
  • Malicious Shooting - Five years to 20 years
  • Shooting at an occupied car with death resulting with malice - Two years to 10 years
  • Shooting at an occupied car with death resulting without malice - One year to five years
  • Use of a firearm in commission of a felony - Three years (no range)

 


 

Town of Culpeper
MEDIA RELEASE

Mayor Coleman's Quote

"The Trial is over. The jury has spoken. The whole situation is a tragedy that gripped and, in some cases, divided our community.

We asked for an independent and unbiased investigation into the shooting. The Virginia State Police professionally conducted that investigation. We thank them for their efforts.

A special grand jury listened to evidence and returned indictments against the former Culpeper police officer.

A special prosecutor, without ties to Culpeper, prosecuted the case. Witnesses testified and the jury rendered a verdict.

That is what we as town government asked for, and that is what we got. The system worked.

Now is the time to start the healing process. The men and women of the Culpeper Police Department are hard working and should not be judged by the actions of a former officer." --Mayor Calvin L. Coleman

Chief Jenkins Quote

"The outcome of the trial does not change our mission. We are still devoted to providing the best possible services to our community and in the best way possible.

This was a tragedy and a first for our community and this agency. We are all saddened by this event. We hurt too.

I want to personally thank all those citizens who showed their support during this trying time. It meant so much to our department to know that so many of our citizens did not negatively judge the entire department because of this incident.

The men and women of your police department stand ready to answer the call."-- Culpeper Police Chief Chris Jenkins

Town Manager's Quote

"In the last year, the town has experienced some very difficult times, especially this shooting incident. Our town employees will continue to work extra hard to prove to you, our citizens, that we are here providing exceptional services and working to regain any trust that may have been lost during this unfortunate tragedy."--Acting Town Manager Chris Hively

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