Philadelphia

Brother of Maintenance Man Accused of Killing Drexel Grad Speaks on Suspect's Past

The brother of a fired maintenance man accused of killing a Drexel University graduate is speaking out for the first time since the charges were announced. 

"Why?" asked Harry Harris. "What is it that she had? He lived with a girl. He had girlfriends. Why? Why her?" 

Harris' brother James Harris was charged Friday with the murder of 27-year-old Jasmine Wright. Police said the 56-year-old lurked inside the woman's third-floor apartment along 50th Street for 30 minutes on the afternoon of July 16.

When she walked in the door, he grabbed Wright, who was on the phone with her mother in  Virginia, and struggled with her, police said. Her mother heard the scuffle before the phone call abruptly cut off.

Wright was severely beaten, sexually assaulted and strangled on the apartment floor, police said. Investigators believe Harris moved her battered body to a bed and used bleach on the floor to try and cover his tracks.

"I would never expect my brother to have committed this crime," Harry Harris said. "Why? Why would you have done this?" 

A week before the killing, James Harris lost his job as a maintenance man in the building and was banned from the property for failing to clean and take out the trash, police said. The building's owner never got his keys back.

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Witnesses placed Harris at the scene a half-hour before the murder and DNA linked him to the case, according to detectives. He is charged with murder, rape, burglary and related offenses. Court records did not list an attorney.

Harris has a history of violent acts including being found guilty of voluntary manslaughter in the 1982 death his father. He served time in prison. Harris was charged with murder in the case, but was acquitted of the charge. Police did not immediately know the case details. Harry Harris recounted the night of his father's death. 

"It was a holiday," he said. "It was Christmas and my brother just came back to see us. I was with one of my other friends. We were upstairs knocked out sleeping. I don't know the altercation that him and my dad had for that to happen. I just know that we heard shots. Me and my friend jumped out and we ran down the stairs and my pop was laid out on the floor." 

Harry Harris said his father was abusive towards him, his siblings and his mother. He believes that abuse had an impact on his brother. 

James Harris faced various theft and burglary counts and was charged with rape and attempted rape in the past but was either found not guilty or had the charges withdrawn, according to court records.

While Harry Harris said he sends his deepest sympathy to Wright's family, he also told NBC10 he still believes his brother is innocent of the crime. 

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