Murder Trial of Ex-Police Officer Goes to Jury

By David Culver
|  Monday, Jan 28, 2013  |  Updated 8:34 PM EDT
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Prosecution Rests in Ex-Culpeper Police Officer's Murder Trial

Daniel Harmon-Wright outside court

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Ex-Officer Accused of Murder Breaks Down on Witness Stand

The jury heard emotional testimony Friday from a former Culpeper Police officer charged with murdering an unarmed woman last year. News4 Northern Virginia Bureau reporter David Culver has more on that and an unusual field trip for the jury.

Prosecution Rests in Ex-Culpeper Police Officer's Murder Trial

Jurors heard testimony from eight prosecution witnesses in the murder trial of a former Culpeper Town Police officer, including the woman who placed the call that sent that officer to the scene. News4 Northern Virginia Bureau reporter David Culver reports.
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The jury is deliberating in the murder trial of former Culpeper Town Police Officer Daniel Harmon-Wright.

Harmon-Wright is charged in the Feb. 9, 2012, murder of Patricia Cook.

Attorneys on both sides delivered their closing arguments Monday afternoon. Judge Susan Whitlock passed on the case to the jury at 2:20 p.m.

The jury will decide on four separate counts. He is charged with murder, malicious shooting into an occupied vehicle, malicious shooting into an occupied vehicle resulting in a death and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. Within the count of murder, the jury must decide first-degree, second-degree or manslaughter.

Harmon-Wright encountered Cook in her vehicle in the parking lot of Epiphany Catholic School while responding to a report of a suspicious vehicle. He testified he shot her because she rolled her window up on his arm and began to drive and believed she was a threat to public safety.

In closing arguments, the prosecution asked the jury to look at the inconsistencies.

“My argument to the jury was that he’s not credible, and they shouldn’t believe him, and if they don’t believe him, then self-defense goes out the window,” special prosecutor Jim Fisher said. “If you remove the concept of self-defense from the equation, then it’s an unlawful killing. It is a malicious and unlawful killing, which means it’s murder.”

“It’s going to boil down to a question of whom do you believe, and the fundamental question is whether he acted unlawfully,” defense attorney Daniel Hawes said.

Hawes said it's possible Harmon-Wright made the wrong call or used poor judgment but he didn't do anything unlawful.

“The fact that she trapped his fingers in the window then hit the gas made him think he was under attack, she was willing to kill him,” Hawes said.

The jury was sent home for the evening by about 5:30 p.m. and will reconvene at 9 a.m.

Harmon-Wright could serve anywhere from one year to life in prison.

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