Sunday, June 8, 1997
Prosecution Takes Dive at Harmon TrialAfter following reports about the two weeks of Dan Harmon's trial and watching four afternoons for myself, I have concluded that the feds are taking a dive. The ONLY other explanation for the government's inexcusably weak case is that the team of FBI agents and U.S. Attorney staffers who put Harmon's case together are blithering idiots. They aren't. Every move and every decision has been calculated.
First: Harmon was indicted under the federal RICO statute, so his illegal activities up to ten years back could have been named in the indictment, including his involvement in the murders of Kevin and Don. The indictment, however, was cut off at August, 1991. That calculated move serves two purposes. It protects then-U.S. Attorney Chuck Banks from the obstruction of justice charge the FBI recommended back in 1994 and never acted on, and it protects the Mena drug smuggling operation from being exposed.
Second: Harmon's indictment is based primarily on the testimony of indicted witnesses who made deals with the feds in exchange for their testimony against Harmon. This is a built-in defense for Harmon and was completely unnecessary. In 1990, my task force provided witnesses against Harmon who were never indicted for anything and had no personal vendetta against Harmon, but they could not be used, because - again - Banks and Mena are being protected.
Third: No two people who have ever investigated Dan Harmon know him better than Linda Ives and me, yet the government did not request our assistance. Harmon's defense was his own denial of all allegations and testimony from friends about his shining good character. Linda and I could have provided strong rebuttal information against every one of Harmon's character witnesses, but they didn't want it. During one break, I offered Dan Stripling some information which he rather rudely ignored, so I didn't offer again. The reason they ignored Linda and me? Yep. We would have exposed Banks and Mena.
Fourth: On more than one occasion, just while I was sitting in on the proceedings, Dan Stripling appeared to throw the government's case. For example, Larry Davis, a former Saline County sheriff, testified that he never had any reason to believe Harmon had ever done anything illegal, yet Davis provided evidence to the 1990 federal grand jury against Harmon. When Stripling began his cross examination of Davis on this point, Harmon's attorney objected and before the judge ruled on the objection, Stripling withdrew his question and said, "I have decided not to pursue this line of questioning." Stripling must have caught himself about to tread on 1990 and retreated.
The government's weakness is pitted against Harmon's strength which is his ability to act sincere and manipulate. When he took the stand, Harmon portrayed himself as a victim that has been wrongly accused. He shed tears, his lips quivered, and his voice cracked. I watched the jury carefully and spied two females that Harmon's performance has completely won over. If the rest of the jury is not convinced by Harmon's tears and quivers, his two advocates can surely cause a hung jury.
During a break, Linda and I were standing around the corner in front of the rest rooms, when Harmon bopped around. His tears were gone and his step was light. He was startled when our eyes met, and I couldn't resist my impulse to taunt him. I said with sarcasm, "Great performance, Dan. You've almost got me pulling for you." In a snide smirk, he said, "Thank you," and bounced on by.
Defense rested Thursday afternoon, and the government put on a half-hearted rebuttal. The jury was dismissed until 9:30 Monday morning when they will hear closing arguments and jury instructions. My prediction is that to avoid ending in a hung jury, they will compromise by convicting Harmon on the two charges involving retaliation against witnesses. Those two charges will likely be dismissed by the judge, and rightly so. The facts presented did not support those charges. Harmon is going to walk on all counts.
If I'm wrong, I'll celebrate, but if I'm right, I will not be discouraged. This trial has provided a preview of Harmon's defense strategy and testimony, and Linda and I will be ready to annihilate his defense in Linda's civil trial against him. Not only will we beat Harmon, we will embarrass the government in the process. There is a silver lining behind every cloud.
We'll send you the word as soon as the verdict is rendered.
Regards to all, Jean Duffey
P.S. If you are not yet familiar with this story, there is a
brief outline of major events in chronological order from the
murders of Kevin Ives and Don Henry, to the incidents that finally
lead to Harmon's indictment. Dan Harmon Chronology