Murder or Self Defense?

Nov. 3, neighbors had told officials they heard James Melvin Harris, and his girlfriend Teresa Mae Mitchell arguing. Then Mitchell came out of the apartment and asked for help calling for an ambulance for Harris.

Police and EMS were dispatched about 10:30 pm for a report of a stabbing. When they got to the apartment they found Harris lying on the bedroom floor, with a stab wound to his leg. He was unresponsive at the time, and was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead at 11:30 pm.

Police believe the stabbing happened between 9:30 and 10:30 pm. According to police Mitchell allegedly gave two accounts for the stabbing. According to some articles she first said she came home and found him stabbed. In another article, a detective reportedly told the court that she had said that Harris had been out buying crack, and came home with the stab wound. (But police say there was a lot of blood in the apartment, and there was no blood trail leading up to the apartment).  There seems to be a question on when the stabbing actually happened, and whether there was a delay in calling for assistance.

Then she allegedly said that she had been starting to leave the residence, when Harris had hit her in the head with a 3 to 5 lb. dumbbell, then she pulled a paring knife out of her pocket and stabbed him in the leg. Police found the knife believed to have been used in the stabbing. They located it in the street in front of the apartment where she reportedly told them she threw it when she went to call 911.  

Police have also said that Mitchell had blood on her neck when they arrived, and they found a dumbbell with fresh blood on it. She was taken to the hospital to be checked out. It will be some weeks before forensics can tell whose blood was on the dumbbell.

Police say the couple did have a history of domestic violence. In June, Mitchell was arrested for cutting and stabbing him, and in August of last year Harris accused her of stabbing him.

Mitchell appeared in court on Nov. 16. It was determined her case would go to a grand jury, and she was given bail in the amount of $80,000.

Her attorneys made a motion to dismiss on the grounds of self defense, but the judge denied it saying that he understood there had been some attempt at coverup.                                                             

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