James Paul Harris, a Kansas man who has been accused of one of the most heinous and chilling crimes in recent years, entered a plea of not guilty of premeditated first degree murder in an Osage County, Kansas courthouse on Monday.
The trial is set to begin on June 23. The details of the alleged crime? Grotesque.
Harris is charged with the 2011 murder of 49 year-old James Gerety. Police believe the murder took place sometime between March 3 and April 20, 2011.
According to pre-trial testimony, Harris allegedly first shot Gerety in the stomach, and then tortured the man for two days. Finally, Harris cut off Gerety’s head, using a piece of guitar string to perform the act.
Witnesses testified that Harris kept Gerety’s head and periodically communicated with it. According to testimony, Harris practiced voodoo—and those rituals were behind Harris’ fascination with, and use of, the severed head.
Photo: ©AP Photo/The Topeka Capital-Journal, Steve Fry