Madera man charged with murder faces unique set of circumstances

A man answering to murder charges in Madera County is facing a unique set of circumstances.
December 6, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
A man answering to murder charges in Madera County is facing a unique set of circumstances. Jonte Harris is being held liable for what happened during the time police say he and another suspect were committing a robbery. His friend was shot and killed by the victim.

This is an unusual case because one alleged robber is being charged with murder for the death of a man who police say was his accomplice and friend. Earlier this year, police say the two walked into this and held up the clerk at gunpoint. The pharmacy owner fired, killing one suspect.

Court ended quickly for Harris in Madera County when he waived his right to a preliminary hearing. His attorney says he and his client decided this route was best way to get to trial faster.

Madera police say the pair was after a prescription cough syrup inside the Almond Avenue Pharmacy.

Aquilla Bailey died when the pharmacy owner fired and shot both suspects. One pharmacy employee was also hit by the suspect's gunfire. Harris has told investigators he did not expect Bailey to shoot.

"He still denies any knowledge of knowing what was going on by the person that was ultimately killed in this incident," Harris' attorney David Jones said.

Right after the deadly shooting, the pharmacy owner told Action News what those terrifying moments were like.

"It was not a robbery so much as an execution. It was an attempted assassination, they didn't make any demands, they simply came in, reached over here, and it was basically shooting us almost in the back of the head," pharmacy owner Bryan Lee said.

The victims are expected to testify at trial. If he is convicted, Harris could face life in prison.

"He'd rather not be sitting in jail right now but he realizes that he's gotta go through the process and get his day in court to fight it so he has actually been quite calm because of that," Jones said.

Madera police say Harris admitted he and his friend drove here from Fresno to rob the pharmacy. Friday his attorney said he is innocent and looking forward to trial.


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