FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) – After days of testimony Thomas Lester Harper tried to apologize. “I’m sorry,” he said while on the stand Monday.
Prosecutor Jack Strickland wasn’t having any of it and quickly jumped in and asked, “For what?” Harper said, “For everything.”
Moments later Harper tried to detail saying, “I’m sorry for taking Mr. Clarence’s life. I’m sorry for taking Mr. Nasir’s life. I’m sorry for the other people affected that day because of the incident. I’m sorry.”
Harper was accused of murdering 18-year-old Good Samaritan Clarence Robinson in December of 2011. Apparently, his apologies weren’t thought to be sincere. After less than an hour of deliberating the jury found the 30-year-old guilty of murder. Harper stood emotionless as the judge read the verdict.
Harper didn’t have to testify, but he said he wanted to because he claimed he acted in self-defense. Harper’s attorney, Ezekiel Tyson, told the court, “This man within his rights said ‘do not touch us, get away from the car.'”
Prosecutors say after driving his SUV recklessly and causing a multi-car crash that killed driver Najee Nasir, 42, Harper then shot Robinson in the head.
During closing arguments prosecutor Amy Collum said, “He, by his own hands, by his own admission pulled out a gun that he knew was loaded he aimed it in the direction of this young boy and he shot him dead — without a thought for anyone but himself.”
Police say Robinson was trying to help Harper’s twin toddlers get out of the crashed vehicle. Harper has testified that he blacked out and when he came to, he saw a stranger trying to take his children.
“You think you were justified in killing the boy,” Strickland asked. Harper replied, “Yes sir.”
In his closing, Tyson said, “He didn’t think Mr. Robinson was trying to help him. His intent was not to harm Mr. Robinson he was trying to protect his children.”
While on the stand Friday Harper said he was tired and had drunk an energy drink before taking his twins with him on a drive. He also admitted that he was arguing with a former classmate on the phone.
Moments before the jury set out for deliberations prosecutor Collum told the court, “There is no explanation, there is no justification, there is no rational thought whatsoever for what happened out there that day.”
The punishment phase of the trail is set to get underway Tuesday morning at 9:30. Harper faces five years to life in prison.
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