A McHenry County judge on Monday will hear the case of a man accused of fatally stabbing his wife while facing pending domestic battery charges from just months prior.
Anthony Harrison, 33, is set for a bench trial to begin Monday afternoon before Judge James Cowlin in the murder of his wife Laura Harrison. Harrison chose to have his case heard by a judge rather than a jury of his peers.
Authorities said Harrison fatally stabbed his 30-year-old wife in the neck on June 4, 2016.
Two days later he called 911 saying he had stabbed himself in the neck “multiple times.” He also told 911 dispatch that he had killed his wife two days prior, according to authorities and court documents.
Police found his wife’s body in the basement of their home near a pool of blood with wood piled up on top of her remains and a gas can nearby.
At a pre-trial hearing Friday Cowlin allowed prosecutors motion to enter at trial photos and receipts from local stores showing on June 5, 2016 – the day after allegedly killing his wife – Harrison bought several items, presumably to cover up the murder and dispose of her body.
Those items include a 31-gallon garbage can, 5-gallon gas can, bleach, Clorox wipes, wood, fire starter and $400 in gift cards, said Assistant States Attorney Scott Jacobson.
Prosecutors said that on Dec. 26, 2015, seven months prior to the alleged murder, Harrison committed the act of criminal misdemeanor domestic battery against his wife. They said he choked and scratched her on and near her neck, in the same areas in which he ultimately stabbed and killed her.
At the time of her death that domestic battery case was still pending. Prosecutors argued Friday that the intention behind killing his wife was “in part” to “silence” her so she could not testify him in that pending case.
Prosecutors cited the case of former Bolingbrook Police Sgt. Drew Peterson. Peterson was convicted in the 2004 murder of his third wife Kathleen Savio. He still is suspected in the presumed death of his fourth wife Stacey Peterson who has not been seen since 2007.
In the Savio case a judge allowed statements Savio made regarding their pending divorce and child support hearings. Prosecutors alleged that this could have been the reason behind killing her. Peterson was ultimately convicted in this case and sentenced to 38 years in prison. He. Has never been tried for the disappearance of Stacey Peterson.
But Harrison’s attorney Assistant Public Defender Kim Messer said there is no evidence of such intent.
“The state offered no evidence he tried to silence Mrs. Harrison,” Messer said. “Mr. Harrison did not face jail (in the domestic battery case). There was an offer already made. He was not trying to keep her from testifying. This murder case has nothing to do with prior domestic battery.”
On Monday morning before the trial began Cowlin ruled against allowing statements Laura Harrison made to police during the domestic battery case. He said Harrison may have killed his wife for any number of reasons but, unlike the Peterson case, there were no statements made to anyone saying he had threatened her in anyway prior to the murder.
Cowlin also allowed the prosecution to enter written text messages Laura Harrison had sent to her sister on the day she was allegedly killed saying she wanted her husband to leave the home sooner rather than later as was a prior agreement between the couple. The judge also allowed evidence that the words “I did this” were written in marker on a ledge inside the home and that Harrison wrote a letter to his grandma supposedly admitting to killing his wife. He also will consider the 911 call that Anthony Harrison made on June 6, 2016 and computer searches he made.
Laura Harrison was one of a set of triplets and a half sister to another set of triplets.
Attorneys said they expect a large gathering at Monday’s trial including Laura Harrison’s father who is flying in from
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