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Husband jailed for '01 murder gets day in court

Associated Press Modified: September 11, 2012 at 6:32 pm •  Published: September 11, 2012

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A once-prominent auto dealer urged the top court in New York state on Tuesday to overturn his conviction for murdering his missing wife, citing limited circumstantial evidence and trial errors.

Defense attorney William Easton told the Court of Appeals that motive and intent, without a body, are not enough in this case. His client Calvin L. Harris, now 51, was convicted of killing the mother of their four children 11 years ago during a fractious divorce. He is in Auburn state prison, eligible for parole in 2034.

"There was DNA evidence from blood, but there was blood of extremely small volume of indeterminate age in the residence of the victim," Easton said. "There is motive and intent. We would say the motive and intent would not be enough in this case without a body or an explanation."

The defense lawyer has maintained there's no viable theory for how Harris could have killed her at the house where they both still lived with their children, then disposed of her body within the supposed time frame, less than eight hours, and the limited geography. Harris called the baby sitter about 7 a.m. the next morning, saying his wife hadn't come home and he needed help getting the kids ready for the day. The couple lived in Spencer, a small community in New York's Southern Tier, which stretches along Pennsylvania's northern border.

Tioga County District Attorney Gerald Keene argued Tuesday there also was an overheard threat by Harris, and he emphasized the small blood spatters and that the house was in a remote area.

Michele Harris, then 35, was last seen leaving work as a waitress the evening after the 9/11 terror attacks, though a later witness said he saw someone resembling her about 5:30 a.m. the next morning arguing outside her home with another man.

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