After more than a decade behind bars and still no trial, a man diagnosed with schizophrenia who was charged with murder will walk free.
Steven Jessie Harris was serving time for the 2005 murder of his father, then 72-year-old Malichi Randle. Additionally, authorities said that after killing his dad, Harris walked to a nearby Sonic drive-in toting a .22 rifle and shooting at passing cars.
He then allegedly car-jacked and stabbed a Mississippi State student and kidnapped the student's female passenger, according to The Clarion-Ledger.
He then proceeded to lead deputies on a high speed chase in a stolen car before engaging in a shootout during which he shot three deputies before being wounded and detained.
In 2006, Harris was indicted for murder, three counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, two counts of armed robbery, two counts of kidnapping, two counts of aggravated assault, and one count of shooting into a vehicle.
However — flash forward to 2017 — and he’s still never faced trial for his alleged crimes.
Back in 2007, Harris was diagnosed with schizophrenia after being evaluated by the State Hospital at Whitfield while still incarcerated. By April 13, 2008, it was determined that Harris was incompetent to waive his constitutional rights or face trial.
As of this week, all charges against Harris have been dismissed without prejudice due to his mental illness.
Harris was being held at East Mississippi State Hospital but is currently "voluntarily committed” to a different state hospital. However, Clay County Sheriff Eddie Scott reportedly said he expects Harris to be released soon — which local law enforcement is not thrilled about.
"East Mississippi kept him for an extended amount of time, and he's currently being held at another facility for a short period of time before they get him ready to be released, which could be any day now," Scott said. "Law enforcement is not happy with it at all. He killed his daddy, shot cops, kidnapped somebody and to turn him back loose on the streets, [there’s] no justice for the victims."
"We could run into him at Walmart. We're not happy about it at all, but there's nothing we can do," he added.
Regardless of the cops' personal feelings about Harris being released, his attorney, Carlos Moore, argues that because Harris never stood trial, in the eyes of the law he has never been found guilty of his alleged crimes.
"In America, citizens are assumed innocent until proven guilty. Regardless of what people may believe, my client was never found guilty,” Moore said.
Although there are no long-term mental health facilities in Mississippi, Harris’ twin brother, Steven Jeffrey, said he will take over his brother's care and make sure he takes his medication to avoid future episodes.
Harris may or may not be a threat to have back out in society, but we can only hope that he will take this second chance at life as a gift and turn his life around.
However, if his release into the real world does backfire and he commits future crimes, authorities have no one to blame but themselves for mishandling his case all those years that he was in custody.