Calvin Harris released on continued bail while awaiting new trial
TIOGA COUNTY, N.Y. - On Thursday, Oct. 25, Judge James T. Hayden and 51-year old Calvin Harris, of Spencer, N.Y., met for the first time in court since Judge Hayden sentenced him in October of 2009 to 25 years in prison for the murder of his wife, Michele Harris. But this time, Calvin Harris was in front of Judge Hayden for a bail hearing that was scheduled following the overturning of Calvin Harris' conviction in a higher court, and a new trial ordered.
Calvin Harris has been convicted twice for the murder of his wife, Michele Harris, and has spent the last three years in the Auburn Correctional facility. But just last week, New York's highest court granted an appeal, and subsequently threw out the conviction and ordered that a new trial be held.
During Thursday's hearing, Calvin Harris arrived shackled, and was escorted to the courtroom. Prosecutor Gerald Keene, who is also running for Tioga County Justice in the upcoming election, was joined in the courtroom by Calvin Harris' attorney, William Easton of Rochester.
Once the awkwardness of a return to the courtroom passed, which was evident by the looks on the faces of both the judge and Calvin Harris upon arrival, the defense and prosecutor began to present their arguments regarding Calvin Harris' release until a new trial can be scheduled.
Tioga County District Attorney Gerald Keene argued that Calvin Harris has been found guilty twice, and will probably be found guilty a third time based on credible evidence. "Therefore," said Keene, "Calvin Harris is a flight risk."
Keene also noted that Calvin Harris was worth $5.4 million in 2005, and probably still has enough money left to flee if he chooses to do so.
Calvin Harris' attorney, William Easton, noted Calvin Harris' consistency throughout both trials of arriving, and arriving on time. Easton requested that the $500,000 bond that was already in place during previous trials be continued.
Judge Hayden, who appeared calm in light of the errors that the appeals court cited him for making in the most recent trial, stated, "I won't go into the twists this trial has been through in 11 years." He then said that he feels the bond that was already in place is sufficient, and only requested the defense to provide the court with any passport that Calvin Harris might possess.
Calvin Harris was remanded to the Tioga County Jail until the passport could be surrendered to the court, and is scheduled to be released this morning.
As for the date of a new trial, the court expressed concern that a new trial that is scheduled too soon might be interrupted based on the outcome of the Nov. 6 election, in which Keene is running as the Republican candidate for the Tioga County Justice seat.
Because of this, the court scheduled a follow-up hearing to take place on Dec. 7, at 2 p.m. at the Tioga County Courthouse. At this hearing, plans will be made to begin the process of a new trial.
According to Easton, the planning for a new trial is going to be very complicated. He noted that a jury selection process will be the first thing to happen, and if the jury selected is similar to previous juries, then a change in venue will be requested at that time.
"The appeals court wants him [Calvin Harris] to have a fair trial, and if it's the same type of jury then we will have to change the venue," he stated after Thursday's hearing.
Of the bail continuation, Easton stated that it is the way it should be.
Keene, on the other hand, was disappointed that Calvin Harris was released, and maintained that he would be a flight risk. He also talked of the upcoming trial, and said that everything for him will be contingent on the outcome of November's election.
"If I win the seat," said Keene, "then a new prosecutor will have to be appointed."
Calvin Harris was found guilty, twice, for the murder of his wife, Michele Harris. Michele Harris was last seen on Sept. 11, 2001, and neither her body nor a murder weapon has ever been found. Calvin Harris has spent the last three years in the Auburn Correctional Facility.
Calvin Harris' family crowded the courtroom on Thursday, but declined any comment. Also at the hearing on Thursday was Marc Goldbaum, producer of 48-Hours Mystery.
According to Goldbaum, two shows were previously aired regarding the Calvin Harris case, and they will be updating and following the third trial.
"We won't air again until this is said and done," said Goldbaum.