Unusual courtroom twist ends with 'not guilty' plea by Ammar Harris
Ammar Harris pleaded not guilty on Monday morning during his arraignment.Photo: Video by ktnv.com
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- After stunning the courtroom by announcing plans to plead guilty to a triple murder on the Las Vegas Strip, Ammar Harris had a change of heart.
Harris entered the courtroom Monday morning wearing his shackles and jail jumpsuit for an arraignment. But before the man accused of killing three people on the Strip could even make his plea, his lawyer stepped in, having learned Harris was about to plead guilty.
"The defense team believes Mr. Harris is making a mistake and may not be completely understanding of the defenses that are available to him," said a public defender for Harris.
Harris told the judge he planned to plead guilty and wanted to dismiss his attorney. That's when the judge allowed for the two to meet privately.
When they returned a couple of hours later, it seemed Harris' attorney had given him an explanation that led to his change of heart.
"I do not wish to discharge counsel," Harris told the judge.
"You do not wish to discharge counsel at this time. Alright, so then do you wish to proceed with your plea as stated earlier?" the judge asked Harris.
"No your honor," Harris replied. "They explained to me, if I enter a plea, that I will have to ultimately lie to you."
District Attorney Steve Wolfson was in the courtroom for the arraignment. He said situations like Harris' almost never happen in a courtroom.
"It's pretty unusual," Wolfson said. "Not too often a person who is charged with multiple murders at their arraignment and expresses a desire to plead guilty."
Harris' decision to plead not guilty sits well with the brother of one of the victims, who looks forward to gaining insight into his brother's death as the trial unfolds.
"I wanted a trial," said Tehran Boldon, the brother of cab driver Michael Boldon. "I didn't want him to plead guilty. I want to see everybody. I want to know all the facts."
Harris' public defender said he is unable to comment on the case outside of what he said during the arraignment.
Steve Wolfson said he is ready for the case to go to trial on September 9. His office is seeking the death penalty.