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Kansas man pleads not guilty to killing with alleged voodoo overtones

A Kansas man who allegedly killed an older man, cut off his head and kept it has pleaded not guilty to murder.
By Frances Burns   |   April 1, 2014 at 3:59 PM

A Kansas man who allegedly killed an older man, cut off his head and kept it has pleaded not guilty to murder.

James Paul Harris, 29, of Topeka is scheduled to go on trial in June. He appeared in Osage County District Court in handcuffs and shackles Monday to enter his plea.

Prosecutors say the victim, James Gerety, 49, was killed in March or April 2011. The crime was not discovered until March 2012, when Shirley Johnson, who shares a home in Carbondale, a small town south of Topeka with Harris's father, Jeff, found a skull on the property.

During a preliminary hearing in March, a police detective, Brian Hill, said Harris's girlfriend, Bobbie Williams, told him that Harris described the killing to her. Williams allegedly said Harris told her he shot Gerety in the stomach at their home in Topeka, tortured him for the next two days and then used a guitar string to remove the head.

Harris allegedly said he buried most of the remains on property belonging to his father but kept the head to talk to.

Hill said Williams described Harris as a believer in voodoo who kept several dolls in the home they shared and had a bag holding Gerety's head.

Thomas C. Henderson, a Topeka lawyer, testified at the hearing that Gerety failed to show up on March 15, 2011, to pick up his Social Security payment. Henderson said Gerety had told him he planned to live with Harris while getting medical treatment.

[Topeka Capital-Journal]

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