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Man charged with attempted murder refuses to face judge

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A man who has caused disturbances in the courtroom several times refused to come before Kanawha Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey again.

Lamont Van Harris, 39, is charged with attempted murder, malicious wounding and five counts of wanton endangerment involving an Institute shooting more than two years ago.

He is accused of shooting Travis Bush, 30, numerous times at a convenience store in September 2011. As a result of his injuries, the victim is confined to a wheelchair.

Van Harris' case has been prolonged, delayed and continued since then as attorneys requested mental evaluations, as he repeatedly requested new court-appointed defenders and as he faced federal charges in addition to the state charges.

He was on federal parole when the shooting of Bush occurred. He is currently serving a 12-year sentence in federal prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Meanwhile, prosecutors refined the charges against him in circuit court and sought a superseding indictment. On Wednesday, proceedings were held up again as he refused to enter the courtroom.

"He is in a holding room," said Jesse Forbes. "He said he does not want me to be his attorney. He is watching everything now on video."

The judge entered a not guilty plea on his behalf to all charges and set a Jan. 6 trial date for Van Harris.

Bailey said she might conduct pre-trial hearings in the case by video from prison. 

It's not the first time Van Harris has decided not to face the judge. Earlier this year he remained in a holding cell behind the courtroom and shook the bars so hard it alerted people throughout the judicial annex.

Bailey had him removed from her courtroom in May after Van Harris yelled obscenities at her.

Van Harris was prohibited from having a gun based on a federal conviction for selling cocaine in 1992. Federal prosecutors said he shot Bush with a 9mm handgun and continued to fire at him after he collapsed in an alley.

Contact writer Cheryl Caswell at or 304-348-4832


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