The Journal Gazette
Thursday, November 07, 2019 2:47 pm

Killer of business owner seeks reduced sentence

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – A Fort Wayne man who killed a respected south-side business owner 19 years ago wants the Indiana Supreme Court to reduce his sentence because of his abusive childhood and inadequate brain development. 

Damian Harris, now 35, successfully challenged his 65-year-sentence once already but Allen Superior Judge Fran Gull gave him the same term again in 2005. 

His lawyers on Thursday alleged ineffective assistance of counsel because his public defenders did not bring in brain development evidence as a mitigating circumstance in sentencing. 

“A plea for mercy based on his very young age is different than giving information that contextualizes his actions that day,” said Attorney Kristen Phair. “An adolescent is simply not as culpable as adult counterparts.” 

Harris' expected release date now is 2040. 

He killed Jim Didier in February 2000 during a botched robbery. Harris was acquitted of intentional murder but found guilty of felony murder – or the killing of someone during the commission of a felony.

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