Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Daneille Harris, Wife Of Ruby Ridge Victim Kevin Harris, Dies In Payson, Utah Hospital

The Provo Daily Herald reports that 39-year-old Daneille Harris, was taken off life support on February 19th, 2008 at Mountain View Hospital in Payson, about 24 hours after she stopped breathing, according to Lt. Darin Durfey of the Utah County Sheriff's Office. She was the wife of Kevin Harris, who was involved in an 11-day standoff with federal agents in 1992 at Ruby Ridge, Idaho.

The couple were driving from Las Vegas to their home in Wyoming last Monday (Feb. 18)when Daneille Harris stopped breathing. Kevin Harris pulled over on the side of Interstate 15 near Santaquin and called 911. Lt. Durfey said preliminary tests indicate that Daneille Harris died of a drug overdose. Durfey also said the incident is being investigated under standard department protocol, which requires an investigation for any unattended death, though Kevin Harris is not suspected of any crimes. Kevin Harris returned to his home in Wyoming, Durfey said. No closure is possible until the final autopsy results are in.

Kevin Harris became a nationally known figure after the Ruby Ridge standoff at the home of Randy Weaver. On Aug. 21, 1992, Kevin Harris and Weaver's 14-year-old son, Sammy, were outside the Weaver family's Idaho home when Weaver's dog began barking at what turned out to be agents from the U.S. Marshals Service who were on the property to arrest Weaver on a firearms charge. Harris and Weaver's son thought the dog was barking at a wild animal and grabbed their rifles. One of the marshals shot and killed the dog, sparking a firefight that left Sammy Weaver and Deputy Marshal William Degan dead.

A standoff ensued, and on the second day, an FBI sniper accidentally killed Weaver's wife, Vicki, who was standing behind a door. Harris was also seriously injured in the shooting. The sniper later testified that he did not know that the unarmed Vicki Weaver was standing behind the door when he fired at her husband.

The siege ended after 11 days, and Weaver and Harris were charged with Degan's murder and other crimes. Both were acquitted by trial in 1993. Later in the year, Weaver was convicted on charges of failing to appear for trial and committing an offense while on release, and served four months in prison.

The Weaver family later received a $3.1 million out-of-court settlement from the federal government for the wrongful deaths of Vicki and Sammy. Harris received a $380,000 settlement. A Department of Justice task force concluded that the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team overreacted to the threat of violence during the siege, and the FBI disciplined 12 agents and employees, including then Salt Lake FBI Special Agent in Charge Eugene Glenn, because of the incident.

Incredibly, that was not the end of Kevin Harris' legal troubles. On August 21st, 1997, Chief Boundary County (ID) Prosecutor Denise Woodbury filed state first degree murder charges against Kevin Harris over Degan's death. Despite the fact that Idaho has a law which generally precludes two different jurisdictions trying an individual twice for the same offense, claimed that it didn't apply in this case. Harris' lawyer, David Nevin, contended otherwise.

The Idaho statute (Title 19, Section 315) in question consists of a single sentence that appears, on the surface, to be difficult to misunderstand. It states: "When an act charged as a public offense, is within the venue of another state, territory, or country, as well as of this state, a conviction or acquittal thereof in the former is a bar to the prosecution or indictment therefore in this state."

And on October 3rd, 1997, Judge Quentin Harden agreed with Nevin, ruling that Idaho law prevented the state from trying Harris for first-degree murder and aggravated assault after he had been acquitted of those charges in federal court.

A number of accounts of the events at Ruby Ridge are available, including Wikipedia, an August 1997 DOJ report, and a series of links at Constitution.org.

And where is Randy Weaver these days? He's living in Arkansas. In June 2007, he made the news when he visited tax protestors Ed and Elaine Brown. Upon his return to Arkansas, he was stalked by someone dressed in black, who immediately jumped into an SUV upon detection and fled.

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