Capital murder casecontinued

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Westley Devone &uot;DJ&uot; Harris, the Crenshaw County man accused of the capital murder of six of his common-law wife's family members in Rutledge on Aug. 26-27, 2002, appeared in court Monday. His case has been continued, according to District Attorney John Andrews, to await further results from the Alabama State Department of Forensic Sciences.

&uot;It was the feeling of both sides, prosecution and defense, that the case needed to be continued until all of the results came back from the lab,&uot; Andrews said. &uot;Although technically it will probably be reflected as our motion.&uot;

Harris was taken into custody on Friday, Aug. 30, 2002, and formally charged the next day on six counts of first degree murder.

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He has been in custody since that time; originally taken to the Lowndes County Detention Facility, he has since been transferred back to Crenshaw County.

&uot;We were granted a continuance until June 16, 2003, to allow more time to get the lab tests and analyses back, but there has been some talk that the defense team will ask for a change of venue,&uot; Andrews said. &uot;I don't feel that will be necessary, and will oppose any motion to move the trial n it is my belief that the citizens of Crenshaw County would be just as fair as any others on a jury panel, listening to all of the evidence and testimony presented, and making a fair judgement based on it.&uot;

Andrews said the case was widely publicized, including nationally-based news agencies. &uot;It received so much attention by the media that everyone everywhere has heard something about the case n that is one reason that details involving evidence and investigation are not arbitrarily released,&uot; Andrews said. &uot;Every citizen is entitled to fair and equal treatment. But there would be not difference in the trial being held in Crenshaw County or another location,&uot; he said.

Andrews said that he wanted to clear up one fact of the case that larger media publications have been distorting since the case began.

&uot;Since day one, the bigger newspapers and TV reporters have been saying that Janice Denise Ball, the 16-year-old daughter and sibling of the murdered victims, has been in custody' of the Department of Human Resources,&uot; Andrews said. &uot;That is just not true. Miss Ball is not a suspect in the case, but rather just a 16-year-old girl without a mother and father.

&uot;The fact remains that she is in the care of DHR' n she goes to school, visits with family members n again, she is not a suspect in the case,&uot; the DA for the Second Judicial Circuit said.

Ball, the mother of Harris' child, was with Harris when he was picked up. She and the child were unharmed.