JUDGE orders medications for murder defendant brought to court hearing

Thursday, August 16th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

(OKLAHOMA CITY) - A judge threatened to jail medical staffers at the Oklahoma County Jail after learning a first-degree murder defendant hadn't been receiving his medication.

District Judge Virgil Black ordered the medication for Jimmy Dean Harris be brought to his courtroom during a hearing on Wednesday. Black, attorneys and sheriff's deputies watched as a shaking Harris took the medication he should have received Wednesday morning.

Harris' Aug. 6 trial was delayed when the jail's medical team failed to give him the medicine prescribed and provided by doctors at Eastern State Hospital in Vinita.

``I am real, real serious about someone over there giving him his meds,'' Black said. ``I don't think they believe I will put the whole group in jail.''

Harris' mental competency has been an issue since he was charged with the Sept. 1, 1999, shooting of his wife, Pamela Harris, and the killing of her boss, Merle G. Taylor.

Taylor, 63, died after he tried to protect Pamela Harris when her husband showed up at AAMCO Transmissions in northwest Oklahoma City.

Prosecutors charged Harris with first-degree murder, shooting with intent to kill and assault and battery. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

His trial was rescheduled for Monday, but that court date is in jeopardy.

A special panel of 200 potential jurors was called Aug. 6 to hear Harris' case. They were ordered to return Monday.

Even though Black earlier this month issued harsh warnings, medical staffers have not provided Harris with all his medication since last weekend.

The jail contracts with Correctional Healthcare Management Inc. to provide medical services for the inmates. Bob Ferguson, health services administrator, was ordered to appear before the judge after Wednesday's hearing.

Black is holding a hearing each day this week to monitor Harris' condition.

``It will not happen again,'' Ferguson said. ``It is my responsibility. Someone on my staff did not get the message.''

Black ordered deputy Bill Grimsley, head of courthouse security, to watch Harris each morning take his medicine.

Defense attorneys Catherine Hammarsten and Mitchell Solomon said Harris cannot stay focused to assist them when he does not receive his medication. The doctor said it could take seven to 10 days to get Harris where he needs to be once he receives his medication regularly, Solomon said.

Solomon asked Black to postpone Monday's trial for another week. Black took the request under advisement and will hold another hearing on Thursday.