MASON CITY, IA – After five days in the courtroom, a verdict is reached in a murder trial.
36-year-old Aaron Harris has been found guilty of murder in the first degree. In the strangulation of his girlfriend Sarah Winters last summer.
The courtroom was nearly full today, as spectators listened to closing arguments from both sides
Iowa Assistant Attorney General, Douglas Hammerand said, “The defendant beat Sarah Winters and then strangled the life out of her.”
Attorney Sue Flander said, “Do they ask for a breath test or blood test or urine test? Do they get a search warrant for a breath, blood or urine test? No!”
And it’s tense day for those who’ve been following the case from day one. Especially for the friends and family of Sarah Winters.
“To verdict number one we the jury find the defendant, Aaron John Harris, guilty of the crime of murder in the first degree.”
Cerro Gordo County Attorney Carlyle Dalen said, “You could see how emotional she was when she heard some of the details of the additional facts she hasn’t wanted to hear before and so it’s a very emotional thing for everybody. Even though we’ve taken her through this entire process, this is real. I mean, this is courtroom, it’s not TV.”
Meanwhile, Harris kept his eyes and head down as the jury again heard his plans to hide Sarah’s body.
His defense team attempted to have Harris’ sentence knocked down to murder in the second degree.
Flander said, “Because Aaron was drunk that day coupled with his mental illness, there is reasonable doubt regarding murder in the first degree.”
But that wasn’t enough to sway the jury and their final verdict.
Dalen siad, “I think juries are seeing these are very violent types of crimes and they’re coming back with serious verdicts.”
This verdict means Harris will serve life in prison without the possibility of parole.