A jury deliberated for just over two and a half hours before announcing yesterday that it had found former Michigan football player Larry Harrison guilty of being a sexually delinquent person, a felony offense.
The verdict came down yesterday in Washtenaw County Circuit court, with a group of more than 10 family members and friends – including Michigan football player David Harris– in the courtroom to lend their support to Harrison, who is now scheduled for a sentencing hearing on Feb. 8.
The decision comes after Harrison’s conviction last week on a charge of indecent exposure, a misdemeanor that can carry up to a one-year sentence. Yesterday’s sexual delinquency conviction is a felony and is punishable by one day to life in prison.
As the guilty verdict was read, two of Harrison’s family members were overcome by emotion, their muffled sobs making it difficult to hear Judge Archie Brown’s concluding instructions.
Harrison’s mother had to be removed from the courthouse by two Washtenaw County sheriff’s deputies. As she was escorted out of the building, she could be heard tearfully shouting, “The Ann Arbor Police Department is corrupt.”
Then she directed her comments at the sheriff’s deputies.
“You want to take away his life,” she screamed. “He’s just a young boy. How do you sleep at night?”
Emotions ran high throughout the trial. The prosecution hoped to prove that Harrison, 21, had engaged in repetitive and compulsive sexual acts without regard for consequences or the rights of others.
The defense built its case around alleged flaws in the AAPD’s investigation of a series of indecent exposure crimes now attributed to Harrison. Harrison was a defensive lineman for the Michigan football team at the time of the incidents.
After the prosecution rested its case Tuesday afternoon, defense attorney Anthony Chambers opened and closed his case quickly yesterday morning. Chambers called no witnesses; he only entered into evidence a photo spread and the driver’s license of a 55-year-old male who was a suspect in the indecent exposures prior to Harrison’s arrest.
The defense alleged that the AAPD overlooked evidence implicating the 55-year old male in some of the cases for which Harrison was charged. Chambers made efforts to prove to the jury that the victims’ identification of Harrison was flawed during his cross-examinations of the prosecution’s 10 witnesses.
Assistant Washtenaw County Prosecutor Blaine Longsworth’s witnesses were all either Ann Arbor police or former and current University students.
Some of the students testified that they could positively identify Harrison as the man masturbating on or near their property in separate incidents from August to December of last year.
AAPD Officer Craig Lee was a key witness for the prosecution. He was the undercover officer who arrested Harrison for an act of indecent exposure on the 700 block of Division Street just after midnight on Dec. 7 of last year.
Longsworth insisted the prosecution’s case was not built solely on Lee’s testimony.
“This was not a one-witness case,” Longsworth said. “All of the witnesses cumulatively provided the weight of the evidence.”
The weight of the evidence, as well as the potential jail sentence, seemed to burden Harrison as the end of the trial neared.
“It’s tough, man, you know?” Harrison could be overheard saying to Chambers after the jury went into deliberation.
While his family and friends made small talk and at times joked as the jury deliberated, Harrison sat with his former teammates, clearly hoping to remove his thoughts from the potential consequences of a guilty verdict.
Harrison must now wait until his sentencing hearing, scheduled for Feb. 8, to discover what these consequences are. In the meantime, he is free on probation, the terms of which have yet to be released.
As he left the courtroom, Chambers refused to comment on the decision but guaranteed he would appeal the outcome.
All 12 of the jurors, five men and seven women, declined to discuss their verdict with media.