Bayshore Rapist found guilty, could face life in prison

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Video: Bayshore rape trial goes to jury

Video: Accused "Bayshore Rapist" found guilty on all counts

Luis Harris speaks to Judge Chet Tharpe during Harris' trial for rape and kidnapping.
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Latest Update -- The jury found Luis Harris, 31, guilty on all counts including sexual battery, kidnapping and impersonating an officer.

Harris shook his head in disbelief and tears rolled down his cheeks as the clerk read back the verdict.

The victim was ushered out of the courtroom , shielded from the media, though it was clear she was emotionally drained.

Harris faces up to life in prison during his sentencing hearing on February 17th. 

9:00 p.m. update--  Deliberations continued as of 9:10 pm Thursday, even after the jury requested they stop for the night and return on Friday.

Judge Tharpe told him he realizes it's been a long trial and appreciates their time, however he asked they go back and deliberate for at least a couple more hours.

If they cannot reach a verdict at that point, Judge Tharpe says they will then make a decision on what to do.

The jurors wrote to Judge Tharpe throughout their deliberations since about noon, asking for transcripts of witness testimony, telling him they want to clarify a few points and want to be as thorough as possible in their deliberations.

There's a lot at stake for the defendant, 31-year-old Luis Harris who faces up to life in prison if convicted of all counts against him, which include sexual battery, kidnapping, and impersonating an officer.

He essentially admitted to the fraudulent use of credit card charges against him on during an emotional testimony on Wednesday, telling the jury the only thing he did wrong on the night of July 29th was use the victim's credit card without her authorization.

3:20 p.m. update --  The jury has requested to see transcripts of testimony from three witnesses to clarify a few points.

The judge allowed them to receive the printed transcripts, despite a request by the defense that the jury rely on memory of the testimony instead.

Jurors have been deliberating since about noon.

Harris was allowed back into the courtroom, but received a stern warning from Judge Chet Tharpe, "You make one more outburst, we'll get the verdict without your presence."

He added, "I'm not going to put up with your antics any further."

Harris told the judge he understood and was escorted out of the courtroom.

Noon update --  Another round of drama in the so-called "Bayshore rape" trial.

After two days of tears in the courtroom from the defendant, 31-year-old Luis Harris stood up and shouted to the jurors at the end of closing arguments, despite several warnings from the judge to behave.

"What they're not telling you is she has four DUI's, they did not say anything about that, she has been arrested four times," he is heard shouting as he was removed from the courtroom by three bailiffs.

Just this week, Harris was warned by Judge Chet Tharpe that if he made any kind of outburst in court, he would not hesitate to remove him from the courtroom and continue the trial without him.

If the judge sticks with that warning, we will likely not see Harris in court for this trial again.

The case is now in the hands of a jury of six who will decide whether prosecutors proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Harris committed the crimes he's accused of.

Harris faces life in prison if convicted of all counts against him which include kidnapping, impersonating an officer, grand theft and sexual battery.

Earlier Report:

Tampa, Florida  --  The jury in the so-called "Bayshore rape" trial is listening to closing arguments.

31-year-old Luis Harris is accused of posing as a law enforcement officer, flagging down a woman on South Tampa's Bayshore Boulevard and then put her in handcuffs, telling her he was taking her to jail for DUI.

The victim claims rather than taking her to jail, Harris drover her around Hyde Park to an ATM, and withdrew $500 from her account before taking her to a park on Bayshore Boulevard where she says he raped her before letting her go.

Harris told a vastly different story during an emotional testimony the stand yesterday.

"I didn't rape her.  I didn't force her to do sex.  I didn't take her anywhere against her will and i didn't impersonate no officer," he cried during his testimony on Wednesday, "I used her ATM card at the Hard Rock and gas station.  That's what I did and that's what I'm telling you I did."

Prosecutor, Jennifer Johnson told the jury on Thursday morning to listen closely to the testimonies of Harris and compare it to the other witnesses in this case.

She said the victim had no reason to believe the man who walked up to her car was not an officer. 

"She complies, she lives him respect and courtesy," said Johnson.

She asked the jurors to consider the victim's testimony that when she realized the man who took her was not a law enforcement officer, "She is afraid for her life," said Johnson.

Johnson went on to remind jurors about the victim's testimony that she complied with the man's demands because "her life was in his hands".

But, when it was time for Harris's defense attorney to make her closing argument, public defender Maria Pavilidis reminded the jurors their decision in this case must be based evidence, not emotion or the actions of anyone in this case.

She admitted this case has been "so unusual in so many different ways."

You may recall, Harris started the trial by representing himself after getting rid of his defense team because he felt he was better prepare to start the trial last week on his own.

The defense had wanted to continue to the trial because they needed more time to prepare.

'Although that was not the smartest decision, he is not on trial to test his common sense or his intelligence," Pavilidis told the jury.

Three days into the trial, after a highly unusual cross examination of a victim by the accused, Harris decided he was in over his head and asked for an attorney.

'You cannot use that fact in making any decision in this case," she reminded.

Pavilidis went on to point out several holes in the state's case, including the victim's testimony on the stand and what she told detectives right after the crime.

"There are huge gaping holes in this case," said Pavilidis, "When you go  back and look at her testimony and compare that ot all of the evidence, it doesn't fit and the story she says about what happened doesn't fit with the physical evidence."

She pointed out the victim's initial statement to detectives that she saw a man walk out in front of her on Bayshore Boulevard with a blue light.

When the victim testified on the stand last week, she told the jury she saw a blue light that she thought was maybe coming from inside her car and then saw a man pull up along side her and assumed she must have hit something.

The handcuffs were also discussed as a big piece of evidence in the case.

The victim testified she was handcuffed during the entire 2 and a half hours she was with the man.

Pavilidis pointed out that doesn't make sense because it's not what she told detectives right away and she did not have injuries that are consistent with wearing handcuffs for that long of time.

The victim is on a medication that causes her to bruise very easily.

She also told the jury to consider the time line in the case that does not make sense.

"Maybe it's because when she realizes this guy has her credit cards, she's angry he's taken her money and she feels embarrassed but it and then at some point it was, she was raped and kidnapped and handcuffed her when none of that really happened," suggested Pavilidis.

'What it really comes down to, ladies and gentlemen, if her testimony is credible and I submit to you that it's not,' Pavilidis later told the jury.

In her rebuttal Johnson reminded the jury of the victim's state of mind at the time of the alleged kidnapping.

'The victim explained to you she didn't struggle with the defendant when she had handcuffs on, she did, she complied with him.  She did everything to follow, first of all , she thought he was law enforcement so she complied with all of his commands and then after she figured out he wasn't with law enforcement, he had her life in his hands and she did everything he told her to do," said Johnson.

Harris faces up to life in prison if convicted of all the charges against him. 

Laura Kadechka, 10 News

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