Domestic violence outside the spotlight Many parallels between O.J. Simpson's story and local case of abuse.

October 12, 1995

TAKE AWAY the celebrity defendant, the global audience and the referendum on race. Take away the "dream team" and the $9 million prosecution, and you no longer have the O.J. Simpson trial. What you would have is the sentencing of Daniel Scott Harney.

Harney is the Westinghouse Corp. manager from Ellicott City who received life imprisonment this week for murdering his estranged wife and attempting to kill her boyfriend last December. There was nothing circumstantial about the evidence against Harney: The boyfriend he'd shot lived to identify him and he was arrested in North Carolina after his fugitive status aired on TV's "America's Most Wanted."

For all the vast differences, one still can't help but be struck by the similarities in the cases -- factors woven through many domestic abuse scenarios.

Like Mr. Simpson, Harney had a history of threatening women in his life. He pointed a loaded gun at his first wife after they separated, she testified. Like accusations made of Mr. Simpson, Harney could turn on and off the aggressiveness in his personality; his own mother told the court the murder was driven by rage and was out of character, apparently unaware of the gun-pointing incident.

Like Mr. Simpson, who set Nicole Brown up in her own place right after meeting her, Harney craved control. A woman he'd dated through a service said Harney seemed unusually commitment-oriented after a few meetings. And with both Simpson and Harney, along with the 90 other instances of domestic violence in Maryland that ended in death last year, the children are among the victims most scarred.

Harney's 11-year-old son testified that he was relieved to learn that his father had bought a gun weeks before the murder -- it kept him from blaming himself for making a remark that triggered his dad's anger. After Harney shot his wife, pistol-whipped her and ran over her with his car, he took his sons and disappeared (to a Florida theme park, of all places); it would be weeks before the boys would learn their mother's fate.

Harney told the judge at his sentencing he had "lost control" last Dec. 26. That couldn't be farther from the truth: Like most domestic abusers, he apparently never had control.

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