Defendant cries as he hears himself in recording of 911 call after attack On the tape, Harding tells operators that he acted in self-defense

December 11, 1997|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

Tears poured down James Harding's face yesterday as he heard his voice boom through speakers in a Howard County courtroom, pleading with emergency operators to send help because he had just shot his stepson.

The tape of his 911 call in March stunned those in the courtroom where Harding is being tried on murder charges. Immediately afterward, the judge called a recess. Harding sat and cried.

"I've raised this kid from a 6, from 6 years of age," Harding says through choking sobs on the tape. "I got to get a [paramedic]."

"Please. Oh please, hurry up," he begs.

When the 911 operator asks him if his stepson, Marine Cpl. Andre Boone, is conscious, Harding says he does not want to touch him.

"I don't want him getting sicker," the former Maryland state trooper wails.

The tape is key to both the defense and the prosecution in the case. On it, Harding admits to shooting Boone, 23. But he also tells the 911 operator that Boone attacked him inside the Goodin Circle home in Columbia's Kings Contrivance village.

"I've been busted over the head. Then I had to use a weapon to defend myself. Please, hurry up," Harding says.

Harding says: "I assumed that he was trying to, oh my God "

The dispatcher questions: "Did he break in the house?"

Harding responds, apparently using the law enforcement lingo he learned as a state trooper: "He's, it's like, the constructive B&E, if you want to call it that. He has a key he's been told not to come into the house because he, because his mom and I, we've been, we've been [inaudible] for the last three years, and he's, oh my God, oh I have no idea what she did to provoke this situation, why he'd come and attack me like this."

Detective Luther Johnson testified yesterday that Harding had injuries on his face from an apparent fight with Boone.

Boone's is the only homicide in Howard County this year. Prosecutors are trying to prove that Harding's actions were premeditated when Boone came into the house March 21. They allege that he pulled a pistol-grip shotgun on a friend of Boone's earlier in the day.

The defense maintains that Boone -- a 1992 graduate of Hammond High School in Columbia and a member of the elite Marine silent drill team -- drove from his Alexandria, Va., home to beat Harding, who fired in self-defense.

Pub Date: 12/11/97

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