CHICAGO (CBS) — Nicole Harris spent nearly eight years in prison, accused of murdering her own boy.
She has since been exonerated and insists the child’s death was a “tragic accident.” But lawyers for the Chicago detectives who worked the case maintain that “she snapped” and “killed her son in cold blood” — and forensics back it up.
Now, a federal jury is deliberating Harris’ claim that police fabricated her confession and framed her for the death of her 4-year-old son, Jaquari, inside their Northwest Side home.
The wrongful conviction case just happens to be wrapping up at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse at the end of a week that saw several criminal charges dropped in connection with alleged police misconduct — including what is believed to be the first mass exoneration in Cook County history.
Meanwhile, it’s been five years since a federal appeals court overturned Harris’ conviction. It ruled that her older son, Diante, was wrongly barred from testifying at trial that her younger son accidentally choked himself to death.
Jaquari died on May 14, 2005. Harris says that, after sending the boys to their room for playing outside without permission, she left for a nearby laundromat while the boys’ father napped. The father later checked on the boys as Harris was returning home and discovered that Jaquari was, “flat on his stomach on the floor, with a bubble coming out of his nose, and his face was purple.”
Later, Diante would explain he saw Jaquari playing a “Spider-man game” in their bedroom. He also said he saw Jaquari wrap a loose elastic band from a fitted sheet on their top bunk bed around his neck.
But investigators discovered a phone cord that could stretch from the phone jack in the kitchen into the boys’ bedroom. And they said Harris spontaneously confessed to killing her son, using the phone cord to strangle him.
Joey Mogul, one of Harris’ lawyers, told jurors during closing arguments Thursday that the confession was the “sole reason” for Harris’ conviction.
But Andy Hale, a lawyer for the eight officers listed as defendants in Harris’ lawsuit, described Harris’ story as “lie after lie after lie.” He also criticized Harris for not attending every day of the trial and for showing no emotion throughout the proceedings.
“Did she shed a tear?” Hale said. “I didn’t notice one.”
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2017. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)