TACOMA, Wash. – Jonathan Harris asked a Pierce County judge on Wednesday to withdraw his guilty plea in the murder of Nicole White.
Harris claimed that his defense attorney misled him and now claims he never killed White.
“For him to pull this today is just, are you kidding me?” said White’s cousin, Dana Johnson.
Harris entered the courtroom alone after firing his defense attorneys. He planned to represent himself and ask a judge to allow him to withdraw his plea.
“Pretty big reason to withdraw a plea of guilty for a crime I didn’t commit,” Harris said in open court.
Harris argued one of his defense attorneys pressured him to pleading guilty for White’s murder or spend decades behind bars. Harris said he took that as a threat on his own life.
“He did not threaten to kill you, but he threatened you would spend the rest of your life in prison?” Pierce County Assistant Chief Criminal Deputy John Sheeran asked Harris in superior court.
Harris replied, “That’s pretty much killing you.”
White’s body was found wrapped in a tarp last summer in a ravine near Graham.
Investigators said she was stomped to death by Harris after the two were seen together on a date at a local bar.
Police arrested Harris, claiming he was her killer. Harris later plead guilty to second degree murder, but now he claims he did not know how she died.
“You beat the woman to death and you’re telling this court that you were not mad at her,” asked Sheeran.
“No sir I wasn’t,” replied Harris. “We had an argument it got out of hand and I did not beat her to death.”
Ultimately Harris was unsuccessful in his request for Superior Court Judge Susan Serko to allow him to withdraw his plea.
“You are not credible, frankly, in the statements that you’ve made today and in your motion,” she said. “I’m denying the motion to withdraw.”
Nicole’s family were relieved the judge denied Harris’ request.
“Nicole’s up there happy,” said Johnson. “I know she’s looking down on us and clapping and rooting for us.”
Harris could spend more than 25 years behind bars, sentencing is scheduled for September.