A Seattle man who told police he fantasized about murder was found guilty yesterday of slaying three women whose bodies were found in a wooded area beneath Seattle's freeways.
A jury took three days to find DeWayne Lee Harris, 35, guilty of first-degree murder in the deaths of Denise Marie Harris, 42, Toinette Jones, 33, and Olivia Smith, 25.
Harris, strapped into a restraining chair because of earlier courtroom outbursts and dressed in jail clothes he refused to change, dropped his head backward and laughed when the verdict was read.
"I'm enormously relieved," prosecutor Jeff Baird said. "Mr. Harris is a cunning, manipulative, intelligent and cruel man who found an effective way to kill women and get away with it."
Harris will be sentenced to a minimum of 20 years for each conviction. His attorney, John Hicks, said after the verdict he expects his client to receive a life sentence.
Hicks said he was not surprised by the verdict. He said Harris' confession during the trial last week of killing one of the victims, but denying killing the other two, did not help his case.
Harris, while jailed on an unrelated robbery charge, also confessed to police in May he had killed at least three women.
The women were drug users who lived "street lifestyles," police said, and their disappearances were not noticed. They were divorced from their families and communities, which is one reason Harris was able to murder them with so little initial consequence.
Baird said Harris confessed because he wanted the enormity of his crimes acknowledged.
"He wanted Seattle to recognize there was a serial killer," Baird said.
The three women were murdered in similar ways, prosecutors said during the trial. All were found bound with shoelaces. Two were strangled; one woman's throat was slashed.
Denise Marie Harris' body was found Sept. 12, 1997; Smith's body was found Jan. 10; Jones' body was found Feb. 1. Two of the bodies were found in "The Jungle," a stretch of undeveloped land frequented by homeless people under the Interstate 5 and Interstate 90 freeways. The third body was found in the stairwell of a nearby building.
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