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Anthony Harris Was Coerced At 12-Year-Old Into Confessing To Killing His 5-Year-Old Neighbor, Reflects On The Trauma

Anthony Harris Was Coerced At 12-Year-Old Into Confessing To Killing His 5-Year-Old Neighbor, Reflects On The Trauma

Anthony Harris was coerced to confess to the death of his 5-year-old neighbor by local cops when he was a pre-teen Black boy 24 years ago. Harris is speaking up for the first time as an adult about the psychological and emotional devastation he has suffered as a result of his false conviction and pressured confession, which resulted in him serving two years in prison.

Anthony Harris was 12 years old when his next-door neighbor, a little blonde-haired blue-eyed Caucasian girl, was slain in a New Philadelphia, Ohio, apartment complex in 1998, according to legal documents. Harris was named as a suspect, along with four other relatives of the girl.

In a new interview with ABC News anchor John Quiñones for the 20/20 program “Gone Before the Storm,” he reveals that he is still living in the shadow of the investigation.

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Harris was arrested by law authorities, led by Captain Jeffrey Urban, after the boy’s appeal indicated that “he had once assaulted or struck Devan Duniver in the arm and threatened to kill her.”

The boy was close to where the girl’s body was eventually discovered, according to police, and one day after her disappearance, “before her body was found, Harris approached Urban and another officer and volunteered the statement that Devan was a ‘rude, nasty little girl who would eat in front of him.’”

This disjointed collection of facts turned the focus away from Devan’s family and onto the African-American child.

The captain never followed up on leads about the girl’s mother, father, stepfather/lover, mother and/or sibling, according to the complaint.

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Those around Devan were a complex mix of violent individuals who were removed as “persons of interest” in the murder of the young girl who had been stabbed seven times in the neck.

Lori Duniver had “phoned a suicide hotline to report she felt unhappy and was considering killing herself and her children” after discovering the child missing from their house.

Devan’s father, Richard, who was described as “a violent alcoholic who had recently complained about having to pay child support for Devan,” told authorities he would not help Lori find the child because he was too drunk to drive the town to look for him.

Jaimie Redmond, a convicted felon and drug addict, had previously “kidnapped Devan for three days and battered her with a belt.”

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According to insider testimony, the child was terrified of him. When police first caught Redmond, he was also carrying a pack of children’s playing cards, and the individual who supplied an alibi for him offered them a bogus name and Social Security number as identification.

Devan’s brother Dylan was the last person of interest in her death. People reported he was “aggressive,” adding that he had stabbed a cat around the time the youngster was killed. He was not a substance addict like the other two males, nor was he suicidal like his mother.

Urban was adamant in his opinion of Harris, and on July 15, 1998, he had the boy’s mother, Cyndi Harris, bring him in for a voice-stress analysis test.

He compared it to a lie detector test to his mum.

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Instead, without the approval of the mother, Millersburg, Ohio, police chief Tom Vaughn read the pre-teen his Miranda rights and began “interrogating him about the murder.” A teenage Harris snapped under the officer’s pressure and confessed to the murder, despite the fact that “several aspects of Harris’s statement contradicted with the established circumstances of the murder.”

Harris requested his mother when Vaughn asked him to write his confession. He changed his account after conversing with his mother, according to his appeal. The confession was, nevertheless, allowed by the courts. On March 17, 1999, Harris was found guilty in a juvenile court and sentenced to over ten years in jail.

Quiñones inquired as to why Harris confessed, and Harris replied that he simply wanted to “go home.”

Harris claims the officers forced him by promising to let him go if he only told them what he wanted, similar to the Central Park Five criminal case in 1989. “The detective basically told me that if I confessed to the crime, I could go home,” Harris recalled.

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“It’s like, ‘All right.’ ‘Well, I’m terrified over here, so I’d like to go home.’

Harris spent two years in an Ohio juvenile detention center before his legal team filed an appeal, and on June 7, 2000, a judge overturned the conviction.

“I did not kill Devan,” Harris told Quiones while incarcerated when he was 13 years old.

According to court documents, the Ohio Court of Appeals freed him “on the ground that the juvenile court had improperly denied a motion to suppress his confession, which was coerced in violation of his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination,” not because he was innocent or because new evidence was presented.

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Despite serving two tours in the US Marines (Iraq and Afghanistan), Harris tells the veteran journalist that the offense has left him scarred.

However, serving his country could not fill the void left in his heart by his erroneous conviction and imprisonment, especially because the case has never been solved and Devan’s killer is potentially still at large.

In his first interview with Harris, Quiones showed him a photo of himself when he was 13, and Harris burst into tears, stating, “It hurts.”

“Pardon my tears,” he murmured. I’m experiencing some intense feelings. I can see I was just stuck when I look at myself. I thought the world was ripping me apart and there was no way out.”

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He continued, “It hurts.” “I have a few acquaintances with children Devan’s age. When I look at their daughters, it just saddens me so much.”

“Nah, I would never do something to the girl,” he answered when asked if he “would have ever hurt her.”

Harris is now a union ironworker at the age of 34.

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