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Man who assaulted friend gets up to 60 years

CHARLESTON, W.Va.  - A 21-year-old Charleston man will spend 25 to 60 years in prison for the brutal rape and stabbing of a friend, a crime that was captured on a 911 call.

Erique Harris pleaded guilty to two charges of sexual assault for the crime that occurred on Kanawha Boulevard East last November.

Police were able to use a cellphone call made by the victim to locate her and track Harris.

The man arrived in the courtroom Wednesday, smiling widely. His attitude shocked a prosecutor and the judge.

Kanawha Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey said she had no hesitation in sentencing Harris to two consecutive sentences and 50 years of additional supervision upon his release. She declined a request to send him to a correctional facility for youthful offenders.

"I can assure she will never have to see that grin on your face again," Bailey said. "Or that I will never have to see that grin again."

The judge called the crime "extremely violent."

The victim spoke at the hearing, telling the judge she has recurring nightmares of Harris attacking others. She said her physical wounds have healed but she remains traumatized emotionally.

Harris was a friend, she said, and she accepted a ride from him to work.

Instead, the man stopped near railroad tracks and assaulted her twice, stabbing her in the arm as he did. Police said she could be heard screaming on the 911 call.

She told the judge Wednesday, "I think about that day all the time, and I have nightmares of other women being raped by Erique and me trying to help them.

"If I could, I would lock Erique up and throw away the key," she said. "I know forever is not possible, but I ask for justice for me. I deserve that."

Assistant Prosecutor Michelle Drummond said it was one of the most brutal crimes she has handled in her career.

"I considered playing that 911 call in the courtroom today but frankly did not want to put the victim through that," Drummond said.

"You can hear him order her to the ground," Drummond said. "And you can hear her begging him to stop."

She said it was fortunate that the victim dialed 911, and although she couldn't speak, a Metro 911 dispatcher kept the line open and police were able to get to the crime scene quickly. Harris was found nearby, and so was a bloody knife.

Drummond said she was shocked to see a picture taken in the hospital right after the attack that showed him grinning. Police took Harris there when he said he was injured.

Bailey told him, "If I could impose a life sentence, I would probably take that action today. The only one who is going to serve a life sentence is the victim."

Harris smiled throughout most of the proceeding.

"One of the most shocking things to me is your failure to show any humility," the judge said. "Or any understanding of the ramifications of your conduct. But you are going to have a long time to think about that."

Harris was led out of the courtroom by bailiffs. He was still smiling.

Contact writer Cheryl Caswell at or 304-348-4832.

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