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Harris' Defense Team Spends Hours Cross Examining First Witness

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Cross examination of the prosecution's first witness continued Wednesday in the trial of Cal Harris. He's the Owego businessman accused of second degree murder for the disappearance of his wife Michele in September of 2001. Defense attorney Bruce Barket continued to grill Michele Harris' friend Barbara Thayer.

Two days and over 8 hours on the stand, and the Defense is still not done with Barbara Thayer.

The Defense's cross examination of Barbara Thayer has taken over five hours so far. But before she was cross examined Wednesday morning, Barket brought a couple of legal issues before the court.

The issue that took the longest and evoked the most argument from both sides was when Barket made a motion to strike a part of Thayer's testimony from Tuesday, when she testified that Michele had a small wound on the inside of one of her knees on September 11th. Thayer attributed it to a rug-burn-like sore from horseback riding.

Barket claimed this was hearsay, because Thayer never saw the wound, only the band-aid covering that part of her knee. He said this detail will become important later in the case, when the prosecution brings in witnesses to testify to blood spatter in the Harris household. At first Judge George Bartlett said he didn't understand the defense's argument because the testimony hadn't developed enough.

And the prosecution claimed that Thayer was familiar with the type of wound that Michele was complaining about, because she had had many of them herself, and it was within her realm of knowledge. To clarify the court brought in Thayer to ask a couple of questions without the jury present, to clarify what she knew and what Michele had told her. She said that Michele told her "it's amazing, i can't believe anything so small could hurt so much."

After hearing this testimony, Judge Bartlett moved to strike that testimony from the record. During Barket's cross examination he again worked at picking apart Thayers testimony from past statements she made to the police.

When Barket became passionate, Martin objected to Barkets questioning, saying he was badgering the witness. Barket also focused on showing that Thayer had not told Cal details about her involvement with the police investigation into Michele's disappearance.

Barket asked Thayer if she had helped police record a call with Cal's father, and in another instance taken a tape recorder from the Harris residence without Cal knowing. She answered yes to all of these questions, saying that she helped the police because they were the only ones looking for Michele.
The defense will continue cross examination of Thayer on Tuesday, when the court returns from holiday.