LAS VEGAS (AP) — A forensic psychologist testified Tuesday that a structured environment like prison might help a self-styled pimp convicted of killing three people in a shooting and fiery crash on the Las Vegas Strip.
But a prosecutor provided records showing that Ammar Asim Faruq Harris had disciplinary trouble in prisons in South Carolina and in Nevada — where he was convicted of bribing a guard to smuggle items to him.
Prosecutor David Stanton undercut psychologist Shera Bradley's conclusions that Harris grew up sexually abused, neglected and impoverished and that the 29-year-old Harris might benefit from a controlled prison environment without access to drugs, alcohol or weapons.
"Are you aware ... that what was actually smuggled into High Desert State Prison involving Ammar Harris was cellphones, chicken wings, alcohol and methamphetamine?" Stanton asked.
Stanton and prosecutor Pamela Weckerly on Wednesday will urge the jury to sentence Harris to death. Defense attorneys Robert Langford and Thomas Ericsson will seek life in prison.
Bradley acknowledged during questioning by Stanton that most of her conclusions about Harris were based on his own accounts and documents collected by his defense team.
Harris again chose not to attend his death penalty hearing after being found guilty Oct. 26 of three counts of murder and other charges in the February 2013 vehicle-to-vehicle shooting.
He didn't hear wrenching testimony Monday and Tuesday from mournful family members of aspiring rapper Kenneth Wayne Cherry Jr., who was mortally wounded in a Maserati, taxi driver Michael Boldon and passenger Sandra Sutton-Wasmund of Maple Valley, Washington.
"We're almost two years and nine months into this," said James Wasmund, the soft-spoken husband of the three-time breast cancer survivor and mother of three who was killed in the flaming taxi.
Wasmund, who has declined in the past to speak publicly, characterized his wife of nearly 20 years as a "ball of energy" and emotional center of their family — and a community coach and catalyst in their tight-knit town outside Seattle. He said it became a family joke that he became known by her maiden name, Sutton.
"We lost a year we don't even remember," Wasmund lamented. "Nobody's moved. Nobody's matured. I just hope she's proud of us. We're not doing well, but we're trying."
Bradley was the only witness in Harris' defense. She testified that she couldn't reach his mother about his accounts of his upbringing in a broken family in the New York area before he was arrested at age 17 with a stolen gun in a stolen car in South Carolina.
Harris' father died when he was 2, and his mother didn't enroll him or his younger sister in school while they moved from one public housing project to another or spent time homeless, Bradley said.
The mother neglected her children's medical and emotional needs, and Harris told the psychologist his mother was only happy when he brought her money. A brief enrollment in high school ended when Harris was suspended for fighting with another student.
Stanton noted that Harris had a chance at probation revoked for failing to follow rules following his weapon possession conviction in South Carolina.
Harris now is serving 16 years to life for raping and robbing an 18-year-old woman at a Las Vegas condominium in 2010. The jury won't hear about that case, which is being appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court.