LIMA — Assistant Prosecutor Randall Basinger painted the jury a picture of a drug deal gone bad on day one of the aggravated murder trial of Jayleantre Harris, 20, of Lima.
Harris is charged with aggravated murder with a gun, an unclassified felony, is the shooting death of 46-year-old Eric Staup on May 19, 2016, at Staup’s home at 637 N. Metcalf St. Harris is also charged with aggravated robbery with a gun and aggravated burglary with a gun.
Basinger said Harris and two acquaintances: Carlos Maldanado, AKA Chase, and Seth Bowersock, Maldanado’s cousin, went to Staup’s home the morning of May 19, with the intent to purchase 2.5 grams of marijuana, Basinger said. The prosecution has text messages between Harris and Maldanado, as well as Maldanado and Staup, setting up the deal, Basinger said.
While Maldanado had gone to Staup with the intent to purchase marijuana, Harris allegedly brought a .25-caliber handgun to the exchanged and attempted to steal the drugs and cash, Basinger said. When the victim refused to cooperate, Harris allegedly shot him three times.
Harris’s defense attorney, Steve Chamberlain, said while his client did facilitate a drug deal, he couldn’t have committed the murder of Staup because the defendant was in Columbus at the time. Chamberlain is the third defense attorney to work on Harris’ defense. Bill Kluge and Greg Donohue were both assigned to defense Harris, and both were dismissed by the defendant.
The prosecution called Staup’s son, Damon, as its first witness Tuesday. Damon Staup was in the living room applying for jobs online and smoking marijuana with his father when Maldanado and Harris arrived to purchase the drugs from his father, he said. This was the first time he had met either man, he said.
“Carlos handed my dad the money,” Damon Staup said. “The deal was already done. I looked over at my dad wondering why they hadn’t left yet. There was an eerie silence and Tre (Harris) pulled out a gun.”
During cross examination Chamberlain asked Staup questions about his identification of Harris.
“Do you recall saying to the detective that you picked him because he looked the youngest?” Chamberlain asked Staup about his identification from photographs. “Do you remember the detective asking you, on a scale of one to five, five being positive and one being not sure, of what you would say your level of confidence in your identification?”
Staup responded he thought he said three. Chamberlain asked if he remembers saying two or three and Staup responded he didn’t remember saying that.
Reach Bryan Reynolds at 567-242-0362.