Family not satisfied with plea deal

Jan. 21, 2014 @ 05:36 PM

WARRENTON — Tyrie Sequan Gonzalez inked a deal with prosecutors in Warren County Superior Court Tuesday to serve 5-7 years for the Aug. 24 shooting death of Alton Harris, an acquaintance in his home.

Judge James Hardin Jr. accepted the plea deal, finding the 32-year-old Gonzalez guilty of voluntary manslaughter, the original charge in the case.

Assistant District Attorney Bill Williamson outlined the evidence in the case, describing first how Gonzalez came to be in possession of a gun as he arrived at his 1101 U.S. 1 North, Norlina, home that Saturday afternoon.

According to Williamson, Gonzalez discovered that his wife was engaged in an affair with Harris, who was visiting from South Hill, Va.

“She had entered the home with a man,” Williamson said. Gonzalez “found the victim, Alton Harris, and his wife involved in a sexual act. The defendant opened fire.”

Harris sustained gunshot injuries to his arm, face and two rounds to the chest, according to Williamson. The wife was unharmed and able to recount to investigators what had happened.

According to Williamson, the recounting from Gonzalez’ wife and Gonzalez himself matched closely.

“These are words out of the defendant’s mouth,” Williamson said.

According to comments by Warren County Sheriff Johnny Williams shortly after the incident, the shooting took place just before 1:24 p.m.

Gonzalez’ attorney, David Waters, indicated basic agreement with the case outline that Williamson gave.

“Under those circumstances, this is a classic voluntary manslaughter,” Waters said.

Waters also secured a continuance of a $120,000 bond through the weekend so Gonzalez could gather for a late visit from an elderly family member traveling for the occasion.

Gonzalez is scheduled to begin his prison term on Monday.

Not accepting the deal were Harris family members, who were quiet in court, but who stated their strong disagreement after the hearing dismissed.

Calvin Harris, Alton Harris’ father, used strong language to characterize the sentence.

“I don’t agree,” Calvin Harris said. “They give someone more time for drugs than they do for killing someone.”

Mary Lashley, Alton Harris’ great-aunt, wore a photo-theme shirt in his memory, indicating the brief span of 22 years that he lived.

“He leaves behind three children,” Lashley said. “They look for him, for their daddy, every day. All we can tell them is he is with God in Heaven, and do you know what they do? They go outside to look up, looking for their daddy.”

Lashley indicated her disagreement with the sentence, calling it too lenient. She said she puts more faith in justice from God someday.

“God will have the last say-so,” she said.

The presence of eight deputies lined the courtroom seating area and along the bar separating court officials in front. Supporters of the impacted families were kept apart, and they remained quiet during the hearing.

The deputies made sure individuals from both sides left the courthouse separately.

The State Bureau of Investigation assisted Warren County detectives with gathering and processing evidence in the case.

 

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.