Wesley Roger Harris’ reputation preceded him Friday into the Glynn County Courthouse. But more importantly, regarding the charges against him, so did a phone call made from the Glynn County Detention Center.
The assistant district attorney assigned to argue pretrial motions Friday played the call for the court, in which Harris, 47, said the woman who lived with him told him on the day of the alleged crimes she had been intimate with another man hours earlier. Harris then expressed thoughts to the effect that he could have killed her if he wanted, and because he did not, she should have been appreciative and not had him arrested.
According to his indictment, Harris hit the victim so hard it caused an orbital fracture in her skull, and he allegedly continued to beat her about the face and body, kicked her in her back and stomach and continued to assault her in other ways before pouring gasoline on her, attempting to set her on fire, driving her to a gas station and tying her to a light pole.
Harris allegedly also threatened to kill a man if he ever found out who he was.
After playing the recording, prosecutors offered a deal on the record to Harris — if he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and false imprisonment, prosecutors would recommend 15 years in prison along with 15 years probation. In discussions with his attorney, Harris rejected that offer, along with another one that would have him serve 11-12 years in prison of a 14-year sentence — should he get parole — with the balance of the 30-year sentence on probation.
Harris rejected that offer as well, and said his lungs were shot because of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease — COPD — and he would not live to see the end of the prison term anyway.
Both the prosecution and Superior Court Judge Robert Guy reminded Harris that if the case goes to trial and he is found guilty, prosecutors intend to file a motion to consider him a recidivist, which would lead to a maximum sentence of 135 years. That sentence would come with some discretion left to the judge about how much to suspend or probate — along with possible mandatory minimums of 13-33 years if convicted on all counts — depending on how many sentences would run concurrent.
Instead, Harris, through his attorney Michael Chad Taylor, asked for a psychological evaluation regarding his mental competency at the time of the alleged crimes and competency to stand trial.
Taylor said he received the case June 5 after other attorneys had to declined because of conflicts, and said he believes his client has a point. As such, Harris will receive his evaluation, but the plea deal was withdrawn.
Under the Family Violence Act, Harris faces five counts of aggravated assault and one count each of battery and aggravated battery. He is also charged with false imprisonment, kidnapping and terroristic threats and acts.