For Immediate Release 3/29/2017
Southwest Baltimore – Robert Harris was sentenced to Life plus 20 years for his first degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and two handgun convictions from January 2017.
In 1997, Robert D. Harris was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for hiring someone to murder his fiancé in Violetville Park. He was granted a new trial in 2012, and yet another new trial in January of this year.
Assistant State’s Attorneys Paul O’Connor and Aaron Parker prosecuted the case.
Approximately 20 years ago, Harris hired Russell Brill for $20,000 to kill his fiancé, Teresa McLeod, in an effort to collect on her insurance policy. The plan was for Brill to make it look like a robbery as McLeod made her way to work. However, Brill failed to follow through on the plan.
Harris then contacted Brill with a new scheme. Harris would take McLeod on a walk through Violetville Park in Southwest Baltimore, during which Brill was to feign a robbery of the couple, shoot Harris in the leg for authenticity, and kill McLeod. Brill executed the plan this time, murdering McLeod with six shots on January 26, 1996.
In 1997, Brill pled guilty to the murder and was sentenced to life in prison, with all but 30 years suspended. That same year, a jury convicted Harris, and he was sentenced to life. However, Harris's conviction was overturned 12 years later because a judge found that the State did not fully disclose the details of the cooperative agreements of witnesses who testified against Harris.
O’Connor was assigned to re-try the case in 2012 and obtained convictions on first degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, solicitation to commit murder, and use of a handgun in the commission of a crime of violence. Harris was again sentenced to Life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The 2012 conviction was appealed, and Harris was given yet another trial because the trial judge did not allow the Defense to cross-examine the lead detective in the case regarding alleged overtime abuse by the detective—the Defense argued that the overtime issue struck at the detective’s overall credibility.
On January 13, 2017, O’Connor and Parker secured a guilty verdict on all charges in Harris’ third trial for McLeod’s murder.
“We will never give up our pursuit of justice—no matter how long it takes, no matter how many times we have to go to trial— we will always fight to make the victim whole,” said State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby.