Man Gets Life Term For Woodlawn Killing

July 31, 2009|By Nick Madigan | Nick Madigan,

A 26-year-old father of two was given a life sentence Thursday in Baltimore County Circuit Court for killing a man in a bungled holdup and shooting another in the head.

Juvon C. Harris, who was found guilty last month of eight counts, including first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder, will be eligible for parole in 25 years.

Harris was seen in a surveillance video fleeing the parking lot of Woodlawn's Windsor Inn early on July 1, 2007, in a white Lincoln immediately after two men had been shot there. Taavon J. Chambers, 23, was declared dead at the scene. His friend, Howard L. Hamlin, now 24, was grazed on the top of his head by a bullet.

Harris was arrested that night after he was spotted driving erratically. A gun found in the car was traced to the shootings.

Prosecutors said Harris approached the two men and began firing after they failed to follow his order to lie down.

In court Thursday, Harris listened as his aunt, Janean Carpintari, described him as "such a sweet boy." She said she was "not satisfied that he would do such a terrible thing."

His defense lawyer, Gayle Robinson, said his mother has been addicted to drugs since he was a baby and that his relationship with his father was "pretty much nonexistent." Nevertheless, she said, Harris was "nurturing" and "fiercely protective" of his family, and took care of his grandparents and four younger siblings, the "consummate big brother." In jail, she said, he liked to read the Bible with other inmates.

Assistant State's Attorney John Cox painted a different picture of the defendant, saying he had been arrested four times on drug offenses going back to 2000. Cox said the shootings that had brought Harris to trial were prompted by his anger at the fact that "nobody was listening to him."

"He has shown us that he deserves no place in a civilized society," Cox said.

Vita Blackwell, Chambers' mother, said her son had died needlessly. "He didn't deserve what he got. He's shot down and he's gone, in the blink of an eye."

Harris stood and, without looking at Chambers' family, said, "I do have feelings about what happened. ... I don't want them to think I'm just sitting here and I don't care about what happened to their son."

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