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Harris Waives Right to Jury Trial; Judge to Decide Verdict

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By FOX 40 Staff.
A surprise in the first day of jury selection in the fourth murder trial of Cal Harris.

Judge Richard Mott has approved Cal Harris' request to waive Harris' his right to a jury trial. Mott will now decide Harris' guilt or innocence.

Harris has stood trial three times for allegedly killing his wife Michele in 2001. Those resulted in two overturned convictions and one mistrial -- and Harris' lead attorney, Bruce Barket, says it's obvious that a trial by jury isn't working.

Harris' most recent trial spanned four months, and ended with a hung jury -- and his team felt it was a real possibility that could happen once again.

Barket says the prosecution's case against Harris is weak. He believes Judge Mott will take a no-nonsense approach, finding a verdict based only on actual facts and evidence, whereas jurors can sometimes, be swayed by emotion.

"Laypeople tend to be impressed by things like, sympathy, michele, missing, her family," Barket said. "Juries impressed with things that people within the system, judges and lawyers alike, are not really impressed with."

The prosecution did not object when Harris asked to waive his right to a jury trial.

Since jury selection was expected to take several days, prosecutors asked for a couple of days to gather witnesses. The trial will begin Thursday morning in schoharie county court.