Murder Trial of Ex-Police Officer Goes to Jury

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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