When now-retired Judge Nanette Warner sentenced Galareka Harrison to a natural life sentence for killing her University of Arizona dormmmate, she said she would’ve given the student a shot at parole if Harrison had been abused as a child or had a significant mental problem.
It turns out there was evidence of both.
On Thursday, Pima County Superior Court Judge Scott Rash ruled Harrison’s new attorney should be allowed to present that evidence at a new sentencing hearing. The new date has not yet been scheduled.
During Harrison’s September 2008 trial, Pima County prosecutors argued Harrison stabbed Mia Henderson, 18, to death on Sept. 5, 2007, just days after both girls moved from the Navajo Nation into a dorm at the UA to start their freshman year.
Prosecutors Rick Unklesbay and Kellie Johnson said Harrison killed Henderson because Henderson told university police on Aug. 28 that she had found her UA CatCard and Social Security card in Harrison's wallet, and that $500 was missing from her checking account. A CatCard is a combination identification and campus charge card.
Earlier this year, Assistant Pima County Legal Defender Alex Heveri asked Rash to give Harrison a new trial, or at the very least, a new sentencing hearing. She argued public defenders John O’Brien and Dawn Priestman did a poor job representing Harrison, who is now 23.
If they had done a better job she might have been convicted of second-degree murder or manslaughter and not ended up in prison for the rest of her life, Heveri said in her motion.
Heveri argued Harrison was nearly psychotic when she killed Henderson and her original attorneys should have tried to prove it, instead of arguing the murder was self-defense.
Read more in tomorrow's Star