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No verdict yet in 2008 homicide

No verdict yet in 2008 homicide

Nicolas Harris


POSTED June 24, 2014 10:00 p.m.

After two full days of deliberations a jury has yet to render a verdict for the homicide trial in which Nicolas Harris stands accused of stabbing to death Mark Henson six years ago on a quiet Turlock street.

Harris has been charged with murder for the fatal stabbing of Henson, along with an enhancement of using a deadly weapon. He is also charged with arson for setting Henson’s car on fire.

The Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office contends Harris killed Henson because he believed Henson was harassing his girlfriend and Harris felt he had to put an end to it before he left for the Marines.

The defense claims Harris stabbed Henson in a manic state and that Henson was in fear for his own life because Henson was armed with a butterfly knife.

Certain elements of the case are undisputed by the prosecution and the defense.

On the night of Aug. 11, 2008, Harris found Henson’s car parked in the area of Salem Way and Bennington Avenue. Harris admits he initially planned to slash Henson’s tires, but changed his mind and decided to set it on fire when he saw the windows were partially rolled down.

Harris returned to the car later in the evening, by which time it was Aug. 12. He had with him a kitty litter container that held gasoline, a tire iron, a jack, a towel, and a knife.

Harris said he changed his mind about setting the car on fire when he saw Henson asleep in the driver’s seat. He testified on the stand that he saw a bag in the back seat of the car and decided that he was going to “borrow” it for a few days and then give it back to Henson as a message to stay away.

The attempt to take the bag woke Henson, which sparked a brief confrontation between the two men, resulting in Henson being stabbed multiple times. Henson was eventually able to break free and ran for help. He died on the front porch of a nearby home.

Harris claims Henson had a butterfly knife and swung it at him several times and that it was “miraculous” he wasn’t stabbed. The defense stated bruises on Harris’ arm were from Henson’s attempts to stab him, but that he either only hit Harris with his arm, or the handle of the knife.

The prosecution told the jury there is no evidence Henson had a knife and that the bruising on Harris’ arm came from his leaning on the pillar between the front and back seat of the car while he stabbed Henson in the back.

Harris has admitted that he set the vehicle on fire after Henson ran for help.

The prosecution believes Harris should be found guilty of either murder in the first or second degree, while the defense has told the jury a conviction of voluntary or involuntary manslaughter is more appropriate.

The jury is continuing their deliberations today.

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