Tenakee Springs fostered a fair trial

Letter to the editor

Posted: Wednesday, June 01, 2005

I was brought to tears as I read the letter to the editor entitled "Harmon did not receive fair trial" published on Monday, May 23. How does one ever come to terms with what has happened?

In such a small town, there will always be obvious differences in opinion. However, in James' situation I can honestly say that his family and friends in Tenakee did all they could to ensure that James' trial would be fair and impartial. We never spoke to the press, nor individuals who were curious, feeling it would damage the integrity of the investigation.

We did this with conscious thought toward the eventual trial, not wanting to create a situation in which justice would be stalled, or even worse, not served. Individuals may have thought he had done it; individuals may have thought someone else had done it. Either way, never an inkling was passed on to the press, to their obvious frustration with us. The very notion that people here had "zeroed in" on James and had "already convicted and hung" him before the trial is a far reach, at best.

Our justice system has avenues for determining whether an individual has received a fair trial, and avenues for correcting those injustices. If James has not received a fair trial, then by all means necessary this should be corrected. I leave those decisions to the powers that be within our justice system. I answer only to the idea that the community of Tenakee Springs had any part in creating an unfair, biased environment in which James was ultimately tried. I stand up for my community members by saying that we were able to create and sustain a fair and unbiased platform for the district attorney as well as the defense attorney to present their case from, for which I am proud to have been a part.

We pulled together as a community for the good of a common goal, to give the investigators and the attorneys involved the tools necessary to present a fair, unbiased trial for James.

At the risk of forever damaging the friendship that I have with the Harmon family, I felt that it was important to state how I felt. This is just another case of differing opinion; I felt I needed to state mine.

Shelly P. Wilson

Tenakee Springs

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