Bond hearing stalled for Harris

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 12, 2003

A man accused of murdering six Rutledge residents has yet to see the outside of jail.

Westley Devone "DJ" Harris, 23, accused of slaying six family members in Rutledge in August of 2002, was in Crenshaw County Circuit Court on Monday for a bond hearing. The hearing, which was scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. did not start until 3:15 p.m., and after determining that two witnesses in the case had not yet been served subpoenas,

the defense team, led by Charlotte Ming Tesmer of Greenville, requested a continuance in the case, above the objections of John Andrews, district attorney for the Second Judicial Circuit.

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"We believe the two witnesses not here today to be more relevant in the case than the Alabama Bureau of Investigations witnesses present in the courtroom," Tesmer said to Circuit Judge Ed McFerrin. "Judging from the fact that the (local) Director of the Department of Human Resources is here, they knew we wanted the witness to be here in court."

"We object to the continuance," Andrews told the judge. "This hearing has been set, and we should get on with it."

Following a recess to review case law, McFerrin returned with a decision on the motion for a continuance.

"The request for a continuance is denied," McFerrin stated. "We have almost everybody here, and we should get on with it. If you (Tesmer) have further reasons to illustrate a need for a continuance, I will gladly hear them, but we need to get on with this matter."

Andrews then went further to state his belief of the request for a continuance.

"The State is of the opinion that since the defense didn't get a preliminary hearing, they are now trying to get that now," he said. "I don't want a 16-year-old girl to be brow beat' in court."

"I dare say that I have never brow beat' anyone in court," Tesmer said.

McFerrin then ruled on the matter.

"Ms. Tesmer, re-file your motion for a hearing and we will give you a hearing," he said.

Harris, who was charged with six counts of murder in the shooting deaths on or about Aug. 27, 2002, of Mila Ruth Ball, 65; her daughter, Joanne Ball, 35; grandsons, Jerry Ball, 19, Tony Ball, 17, and John Ball, 14; also son-in-law Willie Halsip, 41, on Sept. 1, 2002.

Harris has not been allowed bond since the time of his arrest.